Dear sisters and brothers,
This summer is one that seems marked by so much violence and so much weeping and despair. From a nightclub in Orlando, to the airport in Istanbul, to bombings in Iraq, to the death of African-Americans in police custody, to the shooting of police officers. So much death, violence, and destruction. I find myself heartbroken and the prayer I find most often on my lips is when will this all end? When will we stop hurting one another, killing one another? When will we find a true and just peace? What can I do?
This Sunday the Gospel lesson is the parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. This parable asks the questions what does it mean to be a good neighbor and who is our neighbor. Jesus responds in verse 37 saying “He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” I am also reminded of these words from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
As people of faith, I believe that our response to such events is found in the words of Dr. King and Jesus. We respond to darkness with light, we respond hatred with love, we respond to violence with mercy. I want to invite you from wherever you are this summer to spend time praying for a true and just peace and to go out into the world and in some way sow the seeds of that peace in acts of mercy, love, and light. As the news reports have shown us there is a lot of darkness in the form of racism, xenophobia, terrorism, homophobia, and just plan hatred. I invite you to do something different (which I know you already are) and respond not as the world would, but in the ways of the one who taught us mercy and grace.
And don’t give up in the face of what seems to be an impossible task. The work of the people of God is transformation and though it may not seem it, even the smallest of acts can make a difference. My prayers are with you all.