Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Blessed are the Weapons Experts
This question from a reader has had me stewing in my own juice for days. I have had it on the back burner since before Halloween and now that the stove is finally clean again and the candy fog and election frenzy has passed, I'm ready to tackle it.
Brace yourself. Ironically, some people will be angry at my response.
Here's my question: in an email exchange with my uncle, he brought up the idea that the Church can not support a "just war" and follow a pacifist Jesus. I know that we are supposed to live nonviolent lives. But I wonder, is Jesus a pacifist?
The easy answer: Yes, of course Jesus was a pacifist. What about the myriad things Jesus said about love, healing, turning the other cheek, meek people inheriting the earth, loving one's ENEMIES ( not tolerating, loving as God loves them), telling Peter to put down his sword, changing "Thou Shalt Not Kill" to include "thou shalt not harbor anger", don't people understand?
The Church, by the way, does support a Just War. I'll let you go read up on that. Use the Google. It's in the internet tubes.
I just want to talk about Jesus the pacifist. Every time this topic comes up, somebody will drag
out the Gospel of John and wave it in our faces. During His last week, Jesus got really upset about the money changers at the temple. What was that about?
The Romans made everyone they conquered use Roman currency. The Jewish people had to use their own currency at the Temple according to Jewish law. Here you have people showing up at the Temple from miles around to make an animal sacrifice of some type (a dove, or whatever). They are carrying Roman currency because they have to do that according to Roman law. They can't drag the animals they are going to sacrifice with them from whence they came.
So the Jews show up at the Temple, change their currency, purchase a dove or whatever and head in to the Temple.
What was Jesus so mad about? First of all, the moneychangers were right on the Temple steps. They didn't even have the good taste to go down the block. On top of that, the money changers were charging a fee. Like an ATM. Think about an big old ATM in the back of the church and you'll get an idea of how Jesus was feeling. I have heard that there are ATM's at the back of some churches. Who are people kidding with that?
So in two of the Gospels, Jesus throws a fit and flips over the tables and tells everyone to get out.
But in the Gospel of John that I have waved in my face (by people who apparently love to think of Jesus with an AK 47 and won't hear otherwise), Jesus actually makes himself a whip and drives the money changers out.
"And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables." (John 2:14-15)
So Jesus has a weapon. We can't pretend He didn't have a weapon.
You might notice, however, that the Gospel doesn't say he beat anyone. He drove them out. He probably never even hit anyone with the whip.
Jesus' whip did not fly through the air and kill anyone. It didn't drop out of the sky and take out a family having dinner. It merely drove out the money changers. They lived to tell the tale. They probably came back and set up their tables as soon as Jesus left. They are there as we speak, collecting ATM fees.
Are we really going to sit here and pretend that one incident trumps every thing else Jesus did and said about how He would like us to behave toward each other. Please.
Read the Sermon on the Mount. Read it over and over and over again. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Not enough evidence? There were people that walked the earth with Jesus. Most of them were eventually hauled off and killed. No one rose up as a mighty army and tried to stop that from happening. Not Peter, not Paul, not St. Iganitius. They followed the path of Jesus, who stopped His disciples from fighting for His life. The legency continued. St. Agnes and St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Stephen and St. Sebastian, young people and old people torn to shreds by lions, hanged upside down, burned as human torches, beheaded, drowned, beaten and tortured.
No one ever fought. No one. Why? They were followers of Jesus. Jesus asked that His followers turn the other cheek and pray for their enemies, so they did. Then they were torn to shreds by lions and made into human torches.
Were they all just stupid and naive? Poor things.
It seems people can't deal with the idea that peace and love are powerful. Strange, since at the basis of all the great faiths is the idea that love is more powerful than hate. Good is more powerful than evil.
Don't believe me. Here's what the Pope had to say about Jesus and the money changers:
The power Jesus demonstrated was the power of love, which heals and reconciles, Pope Benedict XVI said. "He did not come as one who destroys; he did not come with the revolutionary's sword. He came with the gift of healing," the pope said March 16 as he celebrated Mass on Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square.
You might want to wave that statement at your uncle, since he seems to believe that the church does not want Jesus to seem as though He is a pacifist. I beg to differ.
Here is today's nun. Sr. Mary Cabrini (Brown Josephite) from West Wallsend, NSW