Ordinary 7

Vicar’s Reflection: Sunday 19th February 2017, OS 7

Bullying is a big problem in schools and the workplace, and a leading cause of suicide. [http://www.bullyingstatistics.org]. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his followers to “turn… the other cheek”. The plain meaning of these words suggests that Jesus’ disciples are to be passive in the face of bullying and abuse. Jesus’ teachings generally support a non-aggressive response to violence rather than retaliation or revenge. Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who tortured and executed him unjustly. St Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’ teaching is that his followers should: “ ..not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21). This is not easy, especially in the face of the violent attacks carried out by terrorists – such as the suicide bombings in Baghdad killing 48; and on the Sufi shrine in Pakistan killing 72. How can those responsible be shamed into seeing the error of their ways? A tough issue, but I certainly don’t believe change for the better will come by extreme retaliation or vengeance. It is important that a sense of justice is retained. Violent crime deserves firm justice, but not retaliation. There is a difference. Alex Czerwonka

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