The terror attack in Manchester, England has just shocked the world. Many people dead and more injured, some of them severely, some of them children. In the face of such a calamity, what are we to do?
First of all, we acknowledge the outrage we feel when confronted with such a heinous act. This is a tragedy beyond what words can convey. We cannot help but be shaken and angered.
Once the enormity of such an act has passed, we can turn to our faith to guide and direct us. Jesus taught that we are to pray for our enemies, love our enemies and do good to those who treat us badly.
This is a tall order. Every instinct in us legislates to the contrary. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth seem like good responses. But Jesus overturned that thinking in favor of showing love instead.
I don’t think Jesus was being pollyanish when he told people this. Jesus knew exactly how evil worked.
After all, he had encountered Satan in the wilderness, narrowly escaped mob action, and would soon face his executioners/murderers on Golgotha. Standing toe to toe with his own unfair death, Jesus refused to use violence to fight for his life.
Jesus was about what some call the Third Way. The way of love. Despite what was expected of him – going to war against his enemies – Jesus chose to show love in the form of doing good for and to others.
He believed that praying for one’s enemies was a powerful way to relate to those who hate. In the parable of the wheat and weeds/tares Jesus illustrated that spreading good can choke out much of the bad until the time of the final reckoning.
Until that time, we have things to do. We can pray for any and all hate groups who believe that terrorism is a legitimate way to get what they want. We can pray for the families of the dead and injured, the survivors, the city of Manchester, the people of Great Britain.
The love of God is most needed in these times. It is the corrective to a crumbling, hurting world.
Jesus never said it would be easy. And it isn’t. But it is the way through these troubled times.