Sunday, June 19, 2016

Orlando and the Language of Peace

In the wake of the Orlando shootings, I grow increasingly frustrated with those voices that lack compassion and kindness in their rantings and postings. The example Jesus portrays is one of total compassion and an extension of grace to those who are victims - victims of violence, victims of hate, victims of grief, victims of insecurity.  

I'm drawn to the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, John 8:1-11.  The self-righteous scribes and pharisees bring her to Jesus for a judgment.  In the midst of the hostile language Jesus chooses not to engage the rhetoric. Instead "Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground." When they are done he poses the question, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Then he goes back to writing in the ground.  

Jesus doesn't escalate the conflict. He poses a self-reflection question. The accusers slither away in embarassment.  Jesus addresses the woman, "Neither do I condemn you." There is no heated language. There is nothing hateful said to anyone involved in the situation. There is an emphasis on compassion and understanding.  Jesus lets that be the motivation for the woman to find her way in faith and life.  

When it comes to speaking about the tragedy that happened in Orlando, how we use our words reflects on the love and grace our faith calls us to share.  Nothing is gained by using words that are homophobic or anti-Islamic or escalate a hostile rhetoric. Brothers and sisters, let us be peacemakers who seek to understand and exhibit kindness especially to those who are different from us.  This is the way of Jesus.