Be Ye All Of One Mind
5th Sunday after Pentecost
A belated Happy Independence Day to all you rebels. It’s a long time since 1776, and time, as they say, heals all wounds. Happily, our two countries today enjoy a strong alliance that has seen us through a couple of World Wars and will hopefully continue long into the future. There’s a scene in Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot where the commander of the British forces, Lord Cornwallis, admonishes his somewhat over-zealous cavalry officer, reminding him that both sides of the Revolutionary War were essentially of the same stock, and that after the war they would be trading partners once again. This proved to be true, despite the outcome of the war not being what Cornwallis had been expecting. It’s a typical and very good example of politics overcoming the baser aspects of human nature—one of the better effects of politics perhaps…
The fact is, it benefits us nothing if we continue to bear grudges. If we are fighting with someone today, it does not necessarily imply that we will be fighting with him tomorrow. If it’s in our best interest to make up and make nice, then it becomes ‘politic’ to do so. Our use of reason, in other words, subdues our emotions. Our self-interest rejects our underlying hatred.
Believe me, there’s an awful lot of hatred going around right now. The mood of the nation on this Day of Independence is not that of optimism and confidence that we had just a year ago. What happened? An enemy has been introduced into our midst. Without going into all the conspiracy theories about who did what and why, let’s at least all acknowledge the results. Life has altered dramatically since the beginning of 2020. We started out with impeachment hearings, then suffered the global catastrophe of Covid-19 with all its medical, social and economic implications. And now we descend into a nightmare of national lawlessness whose only motivation seems to be the utter destruction of the society that was so carefully crafted by the Founding Fathers after 1776.
Our reaction must be, of course, to fight to defend that society. But there are ways of fighting that are good and there are ways of fighting that are not good. Our enemies in this war seem to have a big advantage, in that they have no qualms of conscience, no moral compass, to guide them as they set out to destroy. The devil has no morals at all, we know this, so why would we expect his representatives on earth to have any either? But we cannot allow ourselves to descend to the level on which they fight. We cannot use evil to overcome evil. Our battle must remain on the higher level of morality and human decency, is spite of the fact that the other side will surely see this as a weakness and attempt to use it against us.
In reality though, it is not our weakness but our strength! “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” Today’s Epistle, written by St. Peter, whose feastday we also celebrated this past week, surely puts the present crisis into its true perspective. “Who is he,” St. Peter writes, “that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?”
So if we’re fearful, “be not afraid of their terror” because God is on our side, and that makes all the difference in the world! There is no possible mistaking who is on the right side in this particular war today. This battle isn’t about relatively minor political considerations, like taxation without representation. When people who openly worship Lucifer are marching in the streets in support of Antifa, Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Party, it shouldn’t take long for us to decide which side we need to fight on. But as we fight, we must do so “not rendering evil for evil… but on the contrary, blessing.” Our Lord himself tells us: “Bless them that curse you.” He tells us to “judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”
So while it might seem difficult to love our enemies as God commands, we should find it a little easier if we realize that it is truly in our own best interests. It is ‘politic’ and our reason dictates to us that we should overcome our lower tendencies for hatred, revenge, violence, so that we in our turn, will not eventually fall victim to the judgment and condemnation of God.
So by all means defend our society and the laws of our nation. Die for these things if necessary. But don’t die with hatred in your hearts, because that would be a disastrous waste of your time and would profit you nothing. On the contrary! Forgive your enemies and God is on your side. “Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify Christ the Lord in your hearts.”