Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jesus Mediates Peace

By Beth DeCristofaro

(Mattathias said) yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree.” As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law (1 Maccabees 2: 20-26)

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.
(Luke 19:41-42)

Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters.  Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister.  Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.  Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation.  In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman.  Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands.  Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!  Amen.

Thus he showed his zeal for the law.  Mattathias, Eleazar, the seven brothers and their mother who refused to follow the despot’s decree to forsake God were extraordinarily brave and loyal to the God of the Covenant.  However, Mattathias mistook his zeal rather than steadfast confidence in God as suitable motivating factor to act.  Mattathias murdered two people in the name of God.  Eleazar and the others chose to witness through their prayers and their deaths.

The notes to Luke’s Gospel tell us “The lament for Jerusalem is found only in Luke. By not accepting Jesus (the one who mediates peace), Jerusalem will not find peace but will become the victim of devastation.”  Jesus mediates peace.  God created life.  Have we not seen too much “zeal” in the past days?  Zeal in the name of racial hatred.  Zeal in the name of fear of strangers.  Zeal in the name of purifying the infidel.  Zeal in the name of protecting the populace.  Zeal wields machetes, blasts machine guns, discharges tasers, erects walls and fences, launches leaking boats to remove strangers from home shores.  Would Jesus today weep, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace?”


Using God's name to justify violence and murder is "blasphemy," Pope Francis said. Today is a day for prayer and striving at all levels of our lives for peace. Peace in every action, however small, resonates with the love of God.  In every major world religion there is a similar statement to our Golden Rule which seeks respect and care for every human brother and sister.  How can I make peace today?

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