Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Reflection: Violence comes in many forms related to power and property, personhood and peoplehood. Evil is larger than violence, but violence is perhaps its clearest marker. Mercifully, God’s goodness and grace are larger yet, enduring in unimaginable suffering, strong enough to overcome vengeance and hatred, and their names are sometimes peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Each one of us has encountered violence at some point in our own life, if only on the periphery of it.
Any discernment process in this terrain will open difficult doors and may reintroduce us to an inner victim or tyrant, although more likely both. This is one reason we seek also to reintroduce
Jesus of Nazareth as the “Prince of Peace.” Christ knows who we are, and his greatest name is
Question for discernment: How have your experiences with violence and/or war affected you, your faith, and/or your views about peacemaking?
Prayer: O God, we see violence all around us. Many of us have been hurt by violence or know others who have. We pray for your comfort. Some of us have inflicted violence upon others. We pray for your forgiveness. God of peace, help us heal the wounds of our broken world.