Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will ﬂog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands ﬁrm to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, ﬂee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Traditionally, since the time of St. Augustine (354-430) who developed what has subsequently been called the “just was theory”, the Catholic Church has accepted the notion that, when certain rigorous conditions are met, Christians may take part in a defensive war. These conditions are spelled out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2309) (Cf. also nn. 2307-2317).
However, one can respectfully criticize this position of the Magesterium as not being really Christian. For Christ commands us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). Presumably, this order implies that we do not kill them, not even in self-defense! Today’s gospel reading confirms this: “I send you like sheep among wolves.” And we never see Jesus having recourse to violence. Even his cleansing of the Temple consisted only in shooting away a few animals. And, when arrested, he never defended himself violently, although he could have disposed of twelve legions of angels to do so (Mt 26:53).
The first generations of Christians, up to at least the years 170-180, preached and practiced absolute pacifism.
Can we simply imagine Jesus toting a maching gun and mowing down rows of extreme Islamists?
In our daily lives, do we adopt the violent tactics of the wolves—or do we solve our conflicts with the peaceful ways of the sheep?
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