Isaiah prophesied that the Christ would not break crushed reeds or quench smoking flax (1). True to the forecast, Jesus was the personification of compassion. Prostitutes, tax collectors, the mentally and physically ill, widows: they all found mercy in their encounters with the Lord. He even prayed forgiveness for those who were killing Him (2). Only the temple money changers felt the sting of His wrath (3). Other than that, Jesus Christ was gentle in this world as there was a greater one that He would rule over.
Unfortunately, many of us have missed this characteristic of the Lord. Threats and violence are commonly used by individuals, groups, and nations to impose their will on others. And where a physical attack does not happen, grudges and ill feelings are held against those whose ideas and ideals do not match our own. Sadly, gentleness in the heart and mind can be scarce.
This failure can be traced back to Cain and Abel (4). Cain was greatly discouraged when he saw that the Lord rejected his sacrifice of earthly fruits while accepting Abel’s gift of his first lambs and rich meats. God pointed out the elder brother’s sin and told him to be patient for his time to rule over the younger. It was bad enough that Cain’s sacrifice fell short of righteousness. But, his bitterness, impatience, and lack of repentance put him on a path to kill his own flesh and blood. Abel is murdered and Cain wanders far away from Eden’s peace.
Perhaps these are reasons why we kill each other with attitudes and words and well as weapons. It is easy to get discouraged when things don’t go as we planned. When this happens, we fail to take the opportunity to see where we went wrong and change our thoughts and behavior. Rather than repent and wait for our situation to improve, we hold on to grudges and ill feelings. This turns to a deep anger where we are willing to kill our own flesh and blood. People are killed. Even when murder and warfare haven’t occurred, our animosity creates a threat to true peace where violence can happen.
There is a way above the physical and mental cruelties of this world. St. Justin Popovich offers these words: Oh my eyes, look through (man) him and above him to the One who is All-Good and All-Gentle. Goodness and gentleness, this is life for me, this is immortality, this is eternity. Without goodness and gentleness, life is hell (5). We Christians are called to show the world the better means of existence through love and mercy toward others and repentance for our own sins. When in God’s presence, we must be humble, commit to change our thoughts and actions, and wait on Him to make a way for us. Thoughts, threats and violence only put us in a downward spiral of death and fear. Our risen Savior wants us to rise with Him.