32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
November 5/6, 2022
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thes 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38
The first reading today is a rather harrowing account of a mother witnessing the torture and death of her seven sons, all of whom refused to deny their faith. The Greeks had taken over Jerusalem and the countryside, and were trying to violently force the Jews to sacrifice to idols. Many refused, and many died.
This is reminiscent of the violence against Jesus on Calvary and the witness of his mother, Mary, to his death. It brings to mind the many early Christians who experienced horrible violence against them because of their faith. It reminds me of the many men and women even today who experience intense violence against them because they are Christian. It reminds me of how so many seem to think violence is the way to get one’s way.
I only have to look at a news source, any day of the week, and I will find descriptions of violence in our world. War, terrorism, bombings, murders, child abuse, domestic violence, and more.
I am sick of it. It angers me that we as individuals and as a society have apparently learned that we can get our way through violence. It pains me to see children, both born and unborn, dying by violence. It scares me to know that elderly and infirm people face the threat of death through euthanasia. (Yes, euthanasia is an act of violence, not love.) It frustrates me that so many men act violently against their wives and children, that politics has become violent, that horrible verbal attacks are launched against one another in the Church.
I know there are families in every parish that are experiencing domestic violence. I know that in every community there are violent crimes being committed. I know too well that war is raging between nations. I spent 35 years in the clinic listening to the violent hearts of men and women.
In the name of God, I say, “Enough!”
Violence is the work of the devil. It is Satan’s work. It is evil. It is sinful. Our eternal destiny is at risk if we do not stop, if we do not reject all forms of violence.
When we were baptized, either we or our parents in our name, rejected Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises. We didn’t promise to “resist” him, we promised to reject him. Violence is evil. We must reject it. We must not compromise with evil.
In the name of Jesus, reject all forms of violence.
We are divided, and we are wounded. Not only are we divided and wounded, but we are dividing and wounding others. All of us are affected. All of us must admit this.
Too many of us resort to violence when we have been wounded by others. Too many of us are using violent methods to get what we want or need. Too many of us — yes we individuals and we as whole communities and nations — buy into Satan’s lie that solutions lay in power, control, and domination of others.
All of us are affected by our violent world. Maybe for us it is some form of abuse or neglect. Maybe all this violence in the news is doing harm to us, just reading about it. Maybe someone at work is mistreating you. What will you do? Will you act out with a desire to do harm or will you beg God for the grace of healing? Can and will you forgive?
We must be healed!
To preach this takes courage. To hear it requires humility. To act on it requires faith…. Great faith.
Have you ever wondered how our Blessed Mother could stand at the foot of the Cross and witness the death of her son without resorting to some act of violence toward his executioners? I am pretty certain that if I were to witness someone trying to kill one of my children, I would take that person out before they could kill my child. I would resort to violence. But Mary didn’t. How could she do that? Mary was able to see God’s plan unfolding before her, even in the death of Jesus. She had tremendous faith in God. She knew that God could and would make something indescribably beautiful and true happen even out of the death of Jesus. The mother in the first reading today had similar faith.
Do we have faith like that when someone hurts us? Do we see that even in the wounds of our lives an unfolding of God’s plan for the world? When bad things happen to us, do we see it as the beginning of something much better than what was, or do we see it as the end of the story? In other words, do we really believe that the Resurrection comes after the Cross?
So I repeat, in the name of Jesus, no more violence. Stop it! Enough! Violence is evil. It is a sin. Our eternal destiny is at stake. Love one another. Forgive you enemies. Forgive them, and seek healing for your wounds. If you must, move away from anything or anyone who is violent. You don’t have to live with it. Reject Satan and all his works, and all his empty promises.
For God’s sake, do so.