Monday, November 11, 2013


It seems to me nothing less than ironic that on Veterans Day we get the gospel

If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times a day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”

And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

On the surface there may appear to be no linkage between the two sections: one on forgiveness and one on faith. But look again. Only true faith in the power of God to change hearts and minds can enable us to forgive the same behavior over and over and not give up.

Without faith our tendency is, to quote Marcus Antonius from Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar:

And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war,

We feel the rage of Marcus Antonius. And our natural instinct is to strike back with all the power at our command. We push aside all those words of Jesus about loving enemies and forgiving.

Almost three thousand died in the attack on September 11. But more than twice that number have died in the two wars that it spawn. In the first decade of the war we deployed more than 2 million people into those two wars. And we will spend the better part of the 21st century carrying for the constantly rising number of physically and mentally wounded.

War is sometimes inevitable but Jesus reminds us today that for the Christian it must be a last resort.

It is good that one day a year we call Veterans Day but we must also be willing to pay whatever it costs to care for them and their families 365 days per year. If we throw parades and then say "goodbye, and good luck, keep warm and well fed" we are the worst kind of hypocrites.