Who Am I?

On the Incarnation of the Word 51 – No Longer Mind the Things of War

Posted: November 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Incarnation of the Word | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on On the Incarnation of the Word 51 – No Longer Mind the Things of War

Now Athanasius is stressing the point that Christ is passing among all people everywhere, crossing all national and cultural boundaries, and drawing people away from their former gods. Moreover, he notes that the savagery of war and murders that has always reigned among people is being ended by Christ. Here is his closing statement in this section.

But when they have come over to the school of Christ, then, strangely enough, as men truly pricked in conscience, they have laid aside the savagery of their murders and no longer mind the things of war: but all is at peace with them, and from henceforth what makes for friendship is to their liking.

I once held a strong perspective on doing whatever it took to protect house and hearth. While the way I was raised left me with a fairly strong compassion toward the weak, my attitude toward the strong was often, “Do unto them before they do unto you.” I considered what it would mean to kill someone in battle before I enlisted, and though it’s not something I ever had to do, I was satisfied that it was something I could do. I was also a whole-hearted supporter of the death penalty and perhaps even the idea that an armed society is a polite society.

Since my journey led me to self-identify with Christ, I’ve gradually found my basic assumptions about life and the nature of reality upended. I doubt I’ll ever be a St. Martin of Tours, who renounced all violence, but I find that is hard to both hold close a heart ready to do violence and follow the King of Peace.

Christianity was known for the peace it wrought among warring peoples. Is that still true today? Is it true when Christians in our nation are markedly more likely to support the use of torture than non-Christians? Is it true when people gather not to discuss concerns and find consensus, but simply to shout the other party down by any means possible? The words once asked of Jesus seem to hang in the air today?

Who is my neighbor?

Do we believe that Jesus’ haunting and penetrating answer to that question has changed? Or do we believe it doesn’t apply to us today because our situation, of course, is different?

Or do we simply not care?

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