|Saint Francis and the Sultan|
Yesterday's Gospel at Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Lent had Jesus descending the Mount of Olives before meeting the woman who had been caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11) He refused to condemn her. And of course, that reference to the Mount of Olives - the Garden of Gethsemane - points to the start of Jesus' Passion and his sin-forgiving death.
Jesus' Holy Thursday night visit to the Mount of Olives was characterized by deep prayer and suffering while Peter, James and John slept. Then suddenly the prayer scene turned frighteningly violent. Swords and knives were drawn. A servant's ear was cut off. But even in that chaotic moment Jesus taught, telling Peter to stop it; there is to be no violence. (Matthew 26:36-54)
And we hold our hands over our ears as Jesus speaks those words. We seem to be fighting a perpetual war. We think violence and resort to it quickly as the solution to so many problems. We entertain ourselves with violence and vigorously defend its use. It's reported now that some people are attending Trump rallies hoping there'll be violence, and we might wonder if the media is happy for that as it will cause viewers to tune in. It simply isn't Christ's way.
At the height of the 13th century Crusades (which sought to eliminate, if not drive out Islam from the Holy Land) Saint Francis of Assisi made his long way from Italy to Egypt to see the sultan, Malik al Kamil. On the battlefield Francis asked, "Can you and I talk about peace?"