What to do in a Holy Week with Terror?

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As if we needed anything else to remind us of the fallen nature of humanity, terrorists exploded bombs in two public transit areas in Belgium this morning. It is incredibly difficult to see this simply as the personification of sin. Sin to us seems like the routine, everyday moral errors we make. This gruesome killing of totally innocent people seems like abject evil. This isn’t just someone slightly off course. This action is the polar opposite of the action of God’s Son, whom we attempt to emulate and follow. So, what do we do?

Rome did its best to do its worst to those deemed to be enemies of the state. And Jesus did not just jump in, as so many wanted him to do, and fight back as they did. He even proclaimed from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And ‘them’ sounds pretty inclusive.

What will define us as people as we face evil? Will hate? Will revenge? Will we go for an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” We surely cannot be naïve. We do need to protect the innocent, or we are complicit in the attacks against them, just as Augustine once postulated. But in our quest for increased and better security, what will define us?

We are called to remember what changes people, even changed an empire. It was not hate but grace. That may be difficult to hear, but as Christians, it is important to follow Christ through Holy Week when evil rears its ugly head.

It is easy to focus on the few who have embraced such hatred. But consider all the good people, like those above, in Paris writing their solidarity in chalk on the sidewalks. Also consider all those standing up to defend the people of Europe today.

We must always renounce evil and be vigilant against those on its path, who oppose our God. But let us show the world a better, more hope-filled way. Let us be even more visible than the terrorists.

And let us pray this holy week for the victims and even for our enemies. By God’s hand, and through the effort of God’s people, evil will be destroyed one day, and God’s people shall live on. Part of this happening is not shrinking in the face of evil but rising up and not living in fear. The Prince of Peace did not run from the evil in his day. He fought it with love, in a very different way, which God vindicated.

May God vindicate us, and may we try not to repay evil with evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

What do you think?

Until next time,

Tom

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