Loving your


Saturday Reflection


2nd January 2021


'pray for those who...'

44 But I tell you,
   love your enemies and pray
   for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be children
   of your Father in heaven.

.....Matthew 5:44,45

This follows on neatly
from yesterday's reflection.

I picked up an old magazine
recently, in it was
an article which described
two men of violence.

One was an alleged leader of
the Irish Republican Army,
responsible for much bombing
and killing in Ireland.

The other was a
leading Loyalist of
the Protestant backlash,
which violently opposed the IRA.

The article said ...
'the two men have many similarities.
They are both working class,
church-goers, teetotal.
Both are affectionate family men..'

But then it went on;
'Ostensibly nice people,
there was a five per cent
ruthlessness of personality,
and when it showed
it was frightening.

They each had their own
justification for killing people.
How do we feel when confronted
with such a mixed picture?

Are they hypocrites,
inhuman monsters who
hide evil behind a
church-going pretence?

It's hard to equate the
respectable attitudes,
the family affection,
with the killing
they both supported,
it seems inconsistent.

Yet there is a violence
in each one of us.

Most of us don't go around
shooting to kill,
bombing, maiming,
but we react very strongly where
people get in our way.

We would defend our loved ones
if they were threatened.
We have deep feelings of anger
hidden just below
the surface waiting to erupt,
given the chance.

Violence is just under the skin,
in spite of our commitment
and protestations.

We find it hard to
come to terms with,
and so we submerge it deep
into our subconscious;
but it's still there.

When it erupts,
we try to justify it or
blame the other person,
so could these men of violence;
that's what's so
frightening about it.

And we're all guilty of violence,
in thought and word,
if not in deed.

15 Anyone who hates a brother
   or sister is a murderer,..'

....1 John 3:15a

That's a sobering thought!
It can even be dressed up under the
banner of religion such as a
'Holy war' or 'Defending the Faith'.

The Bible records it;
Moses killing the Egyptian overseer;
Peter drawing the sword and
nearly decapitating one of the
servants of those sent to arrest Jesus.

But when Jesus arrives
on the scene the vision changes.

He confronts violence
that's in all of us and
takes it on himself.

By refusing to respond
in the same way,
by offering forgiveness
and love in the face of hate,
he breaks the circle
of violent response.

That's where life
and freedom begin;
not from guns, fists or pride,
but from a determined
refusal to hate.

From an acceptance that
Jesus died for all,
and that includes those we
would call our enemies.

It isn't easy -
it wasn't easy for Jesus.

But with Jesus it isn't
just 'don't be violent' -
he said;

'But I tell you,
love your enemies
and pray for those
who persecute you,'

...Matthew 5:44

I can hear some thinking,
'That's all very well,
but it could never work
in the real world.'

But how do we know unless we try?