The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? 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Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? 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The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment

Senseless Violence

October 8, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

October 8, 2017
Matthew 21:33
Fr. George Smiga

Senseless violence, that is what controlled the news cycle this week. A gunman in Las Vegas kills 58 people and wounds 489 others, and even after a week of intensive inquiry no one can explain why he did it. Senseless violence, a violence that continues in our country through shootings and terrorist attacks year after year. There is also senseless violence in today’s gospel parable. So it only makes sense to ask what the parable might say to our own violent landscape.

In the parable, a landowner sends servants to obtain his produce at harvest time. But instead of doing what is right, the tenants kill his servants and eventually his son. At first it seems that the owner of the vineyard will continue the violence. Jesus asks the crowd, “What will the owner of that vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” The crowd answers, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death.” The crowd answers this way because they presume that violence will continue, that violence will beget more violence. The crucial question is: Is their presumption correct? Is this what the parable is telling us?

There’s reason to believe that it is not. Jesus does not accept their answer of the crowd. Instead he quotes to them Psalm 118, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Now this psalm is used throughout the New Testament to refer to Jesus’s death and resurrection. We read this psalm on Easter day. Jesus is the stone who the powers of this world have rejected, but through his resurrection he has become the cornerstone of a new building, the foundation of a new people. So if we see the owner of the vineyard as representing God, this parable tells us that God does not respond to violence with more violence. God responds to violence with Jesus. God does not put those who crucified Jesus to a wretched death. Instead God raises up Jesus and makes him the foundation of a new people, a people who are called to oppose violence in our world.

When we read today’s parable from this perspective it is a reminder to us that God is committed to destroying the evil of this world and God calls us to participate in bringing that evil to an end. But how are you and I supposed to bring about the end of violence in our society? I have no idea. I, like you, have been thinking all week what could be done to stop this senseless violence that keeps repeating in our midst. Maybe Congress can do something. Maybe the President can do something. Maybe social services could help. But it all seems too little. It all seems hopeless.

Our faith tells us that it is not hopeless. Our faith tells us that God is committed to bringing an end to the violence of our society and that God calls us to participate in that effort. How will God bring about the end of violence? Somehow it will involve us, but God’s ways are not clear. But what is clear is that we must not give up hope. We must not say that it is inevitable that violence continue. Because our God is committed to bring an end to violence, and our God can be trusted. We believe that one day God’s will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Now is it difficult to believe that the cycle of senseless violence in our society can be brought to an end? It is. But it is no harder than believing that a man who was dead in a tomb for three days was raised up to new life. Our God is real. Our God did raise up Jesus from the dead. Our God is committed to bring about the elimination of evil from our world. That is why we must never give up hope. That is why we must commit ourselves to work against violence and some day participate in God’s victory.

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