Last week we saw a scene of violence that many of us never thought we would see. Our nation’s capitol being stormed by people pushing, shoving, beating and even shooting other people. These past years we have seen police shootings, shootings of police, bombings, mass shootings on school campuses and at concerts and other public venues. It is almost unbearable to the point that we dread the next “breaking news” on the television or radio. Though it is tempting to get lost in our disgust and rage, giving in to it is not the answer. In the Gospel when John says, “Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:35-42),” he reminds us that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who gave his life to redeem us, to take away our sin which otherwise would destroy us. In the spirit of our Redeemer, the horrific events of these days are crying out for some kind of redemption.
We begin by asking ourselves the question: As Christians, what is our attitude toward other human beings? St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price (1 Corinthians 6:17-20).” In looking at other human beings, do we see someone who is a temple of the Holy Spirit? A creation of God within whom God dwells? A person through whom, though perhaps underneath layers and layers of weakness and sin, God is able to be seen?
Certainly the perpetrators of violence need to be brought to justice and face the consequences of their actions. At the same time, amidst the violence of our world, when it comes to others, what are we willing to let ourselves see? Only terrorists, perpetrators, or enemies? Do we count as those God created in his image only the people we love and cherish? Can we include in our vision that God created all of us in his image? Can we admit that we are all capable of committing the worst atrocity that we see someone else committing?
In times of rampant violence, understandably, emotions run high. Instead of getting lost in our feelings, we are to look for what can be redeemed in the midst of the pain. We are asked to take another look at each other because Jesus died and shed his own blood so that our dignity as God’s creations would be restored. The time is now for seeing what we might do in our families, friendships, parishes, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods to help the dignity of humanity to shine forth once again. Such valiant efforts to do so are needed now more than ever.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector