On Responding to Evil

Greetings in Christ,


    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.    Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)

    The writer of the book Ecclesiastes does not have a very high opinion of human nature.  And, given what has taken place in our world in recent days, one would be tempted to say he is pretty much spot on.  We are shocked by the violence done to innocent people in Paris last week and by the senseless violence in our own community.  We are shocked but not terribly surprised.  Human nature has not changed since the Garden when Adam and Eve rebelled against God.  The violence of Cain against his brother, Abel, foreshadows human relationships since that time to this. And, as the writer of Ecclesiastes bemoans, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’

    Our first impulse is to do something against those who did this great evil.  It is right to bring those who do evil to account for what they do, but we must take care as we seek those who are responsible.  We may be tempted to act in such a sweeping way that we may give evil to others who are innocent of any crime, but who look like those we think are responsible.  It is the nature of evil, and of its father the devil, to incite us to ever greater evil in our desire to hold accountable those who are responsible.    If we bomb a village in Syria because it may harbor terrorists and kill dozens of innocent civilians, we have descended to the level of those who have done these crimes.  If we lash out at a neighbor because they appear to be from the Middle East, we have let the evil of those who have murdered the innocents dictate our actions.

    Our Lord teaches not to return evil for evil, rather to return the evil of others with the goodness of Christ.  Yes, hold them accountable for what they have done.  Yes, prevent them from doing further harm.  Yes, if we must, fight them to prevent them from greater evils, but we must not let the evil, the hatred of life, that drives their mad actions to infect us as well.  As we hold those who have done this evil accountable, we will also show them the mercy of Christ who can lead even the most wretched sinner out of sin, death and the power of the devil.  May Our Lord through His Holy Spirit transform their hearts as He has transformed ours.