The Old Testament reading recalls a flood experience, lasting 40 days. Its authors believed an ancient Lord, sparing Noah, justifiably waged war against life itself and “destroyed all mortal beings.” War is then waged by the deity’s believers; Moses, Joshua, David, and the like throughout the Old Testament. The Gospel reading recalls a desert experience, also lasting 40 days. Its authors know Jesus created peace with all people and healed mortal beings. Jesus does not wage war, even when “tempted by Satan,” a supposed external enemy. He practices peace with an internal friend, himself. Peace is then practiced throughout Jesus’ many encounters as he is “proclaiming the Gospel,” for “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Jesus’ initially contemplative, desert based peacemaking is combined with an active, social based peacemaking. Unfortunately, Jesus’ wholistic peacemaking is willfully ignored by most Biblical scholars. Instead, anchored in the Old Testament, they falsely fabricate of the desert story an eternal war between Jesus and Satan and thus all they judge evil. For centuries such scholars have offered theoretical discussions of and ultimately theological justification for ‘destroying mortal beings’ in ongoing wars. Scholars combine a lack of contemplative reflection on Jesus’ peaceful disposition, with an active rejection of Jesus’ peaceful practices. Centuries of willfully ignoring Jesus’ peacemaking has consequentially resulted in willfully promoting “Christian” warmaking. The U.S., erroneously claiming to be a “Christian” nation, is disposed toward and acts like the ancient nation of Israel – it is incessantly at war. Waging war has captured the imagination, the values, and the ethical philosophy of the average Christian living in the U.S. The U.S. has waged a war on crime, a war on poverty, a war on drugs, a war on cancer, a war on terror, a war on science, and even a war on Christmas. The U.S. has also waged war on 84 of the 193 nations in existence and been militarily involved with 191 of them. The U.S. culture wages its domestic wars and its foreign wars because it believes war is the holiest of actions, fought by the holiest of WarLords. WarLords and warmaking for this nation are unfortunately believed in and adhered to by “Christians” more than Jesus and peacemaking. We are ruled by a Commander in Chief, robbed by a bloated Pentagon budget, and made unholy from the blood sacrifice practiced by soldiers. We die in all manner of warfare as a consequence and across our tombstones is engraved ‘collateral damage.’ It is thus no surprise that U.S. Christianity finds itself in its current blasphemous predicament. In a U.S. warrior nation that has waged a Cold War and is currently waging a culture war, there are millions of self-titled Christians starting a new Civil War. These wayward warriors are not ignorant of war. But they are ignorant of their role in it. They are convinced they are the Moses, Joshua, and David of their time; freedom fighters, holy warmaking heroes. But these “Christians” are wrong. They are not heroes of war. They are prisoners of war. They are held captive by a WarLord deity and a blasphemous theology. They acquiesce to being prisoners of war in this kingdom of Caesar where war is always at hand. They are thus not free in Christ to “proclaim the Gospel” for the “Kingdom of God is at hand.” Lest they make all of us prisoners of war, we can give up war for Lent and for Life. We can give up war in our own hearts, in our gaming purchases, in our T.V. and movie selections, and in our political support. We can give up war as a socially justified behavior and as a national identity propagandized as necessary. If we do not give up war for Lent and for Life, WarLords and their wars will “destroy all mortal beings.”
“Let us not remain mired in theoretical discussions, but touch the wounded flesh of the victims. Let us look once more at all those civilians whose killing was considered “collateral damage.” Let us ask the victims themselves. Let us think of the refugees and displaced, those who suffered the effects of atomic radiation or chemical attacks, the mothers who lost their children, and the boys and girls maimed or deprived of their childhood. Let us hear the true stories of these victims of violence, look at reality through their eyes, and listen with an open heart to the stories they tell. In this way, we will be able to grasp the abyss of evil at the heart of war. Nor will it trouble us to be deemed naive for choosing peace.” (#261) (Fratelli Tutti – Jorge Bergoglio/Pope Francis)
Prayer: Holy Spirit, we take up peacemaking this Lent.
Question: How am I tempted toward being a warmaker and what will I do to remain a peacemaker?
February 21, 2021 Gospel Mark 1:12-15 First Sunday of Lent