Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
As we journey toward Holy Week, our readings focus on violence and treachery. Jesus is the focus of misunderstanding and injustice.
I remember watching the movie Witness starring Harrison Ford. He was a policeman who was being sheltered by the Amish and adopted their ways. Once when four of them were travelling by horse and buggy, they were accosted by some youths who knew of their non-violent stance. The young people took an ice cream cone and smeared it into the face of each Amish adult who took it patiently. When the youths came to Harrison Ford, they expected the same, patient response. Instead, when they were about to smear his face, Ford punched his aggressor in the face. Suddenly the theater broke out into applause and cheers. I was caught up with the movie crowd and also began to applaud. Suddenly, I realized I was applauding violence. I stopped clapping and never forgot how our society aggrandizes and even applauds violence. Recently we heard about a "pastor" in Florida burning the Koran. The act was met with violence in Afghanistan as five U.N. peace keepers were murdered.
In the Book of Wisdom, the Just One is tried and tortured but remains gentle and patient. In the Gospel, tension mounts as Jesus is misunderstood. In the face of treachery, betrayal, and injustice, Jesus remained calm, patient, and gentle. He never retaliated or tried to vindicate himself. He committed his cause to God who was his helper.
As we approach Passion Week, we are invited to reflect upon how we have allowed our culture to influence us. Do we allow our culture to form our judgments as well as our responses to the injustices that come our way? Or are we solidly committed to the Master who always chose the way of nonviolence? Like the crowd in the movie theater, we encounter many situations in our life that prompt us to applaud or even perpetuate violence. For example, a community member says something cutting. We are tempted to join in gossip around the table. Someone cuts us off in traffic and then drives slowly. How do you handle people who offend, tempt, and try you? The words of Peter are apropos here: "Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called. (1 Pet. 3:9)
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 14 books and creator of television and radio programs airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/