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With an eye on eternity

a Parish Priest, 03/04/2016

It is just over a week since Easter, and just over a week since the massacre of people in Pakistan on Easter Sunday evening. The people who carried out the evil act said it was their intention to strike at Christians celebrating Easter. In the end it turned out that more Moslems than Christians were killed. It unmasks the truth of evil. On the day when we celebrate the defeat of evil, it wants to strike back and show it is not defeated; it wants to provoke violence by making us think that the only way that violence can be overcome is with violence. What it does show us is that there is no compromising with evil, there is no possibility of a conversation with evil. But if that is the case then it would seem that the only answer is either submission or violence. True the violence of evil is indiscriminate and it will not negotiate; we see this particularly in this violence which is inspired by a belief that it is right and those who do not follow it wholeheartedly are evil and must be wiped out. It has turned what is good on its head, but just because it is closed to any conversation, that does not mean that the only answer to its violence is violence on our part. As long as we seek an answer in violence, the violence will continue, it will be self-perpetuating. Somehow or other the answer lies in the cross and the resurrection. God did not answer violence with violence of his own, he showed us that he can restore even what violence takes from us. That is difficult for us to grasp because we think mostly in terms of our life on earth; it takes a new mind to see that life for us is not just what we know on earth. For many, that remains an answer that does not satisfy because their hearts are set on the things of earth, and it is not an easy thing to turn our hearts to the things of heaven. It is not an easy thing to find our hope in heaven rather than on earth. But until we do the answer to violence will always seem to need violence. We will not see the possibility of mercy as an answer because mercy has to seep into our bones to make a real difference to our lives, and violence is the more immediate answer.

 

Mercy needs hope, and trust if it is to be welcomed into our lives; we need to trust that goodness has conquered evil and that its triumph will become more manifest in our world if we embrace the path of mercy. We need to hope that our world can change, that there is the possibility of something better even when we see violence followed by violence. We need to be patient, to allow the change that mercy brings time to settle into people’s hearts and change their actions, change their hearts. Violence is often born of frustration and despair; it is the result of the loss of faith and trust that goodness can make a difference in the world, or that it is stronger than evil. In this world, without God, it can indeed seem that evil is stronger, that violence is the answer, that death is the final word, but because of the cross and resurrection of Christ, we know that there is more to life than this world, there is more to goodness than what we find in this world. We build our life not just on our hopes for our time on earth, we are building our life with an eye on eternity.

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