Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26-16.4a)
Anwar al-Awlaki was a Muslim imam who condoned terrorism. He has recently been associated with the two men who perpetrated the bombing in Boston last month. His story underscores what Jesus says in the gospel today about Christians being persecuted by people who believe that they are doing the will of God.
Jesus' words relate to the experience of the early Church. Jews executed men like Stephan and James believing that they were heretics. Of course, at least nominal Christians have more than revenged the atrocities. In places and times of Christian majorities Jews have been systematically traumatized. For Christians such mistreatment is doubly sinful. After all, they not only profess a God of love but a Savior who advocated turning the other cheek when mistreated.
Does this mean that we are to ignore injustices done to us? No, that also would be a misrepresentation of Jesus’ ethic. But we are to bear injury without overreaching recompense by taking the injustices to God’s appointed representatives. In most cases this means the state which is better equipped than the individual to make fair and indiscriminate restitution.