Why is love bad
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Terror - evil - and belief in love
(A sermon on the current occasion)
|Abstract:||Evil veils itself. You can see it in others. Where is it still revealed? How can it be defeated?|
We encounter evil every day. The media are full of reports of corruption and violence. Nevertheless, there was a rather optimistic mood in our countries for decades. You believed you could live in a fun society. Even in some ecclesiastical and theological circles little was said about sin, judgment and the devil, and it was believed that it was enough to talk about God. The terror in the USA suddenly brought another feeling to the surface. Now there is a world of evil again, and some believe that they have clearly found their place. But is that so? Is there evil in the distance with others?
The Bible often describes evil as violence. In John's Gospel, Jesus speaks of the devil as a murderer from the beginning. Acts of violence are his work. Such acts are easy to spot in and of themselves. But judging them is difficult and usually very contradictory. What can be a heroic deed or even the work of God for the victors can easily be experienced by the losers as a common crime or diabolical work. Such contradicting interpretations run through history, and they are evident today too. What the world public accuses of terrorism in the USA as a heinous crime is understood quite differently by the other side. One of the alleged assassins is said to have written in view of his upcoming deed: "Purify your heart and cleanse it of all earthly things. The time of fun and senseless hustle and bustle is over. The time of judgment has come. Use these last hours for God asking for forgiveness ... obey the will of God "
What we have experienced as a crime, the perpetrators themselves must have understood as an undertaking in which they believed they obeyed God's will. How are such opposites possible? - According to the Gospel of John, the devil is not only the murderer from the beginning, but also the father of lies, and lies here mean more than a conscious lie. The entire context of the Bible makes it clear that the lie primarily addresses self-deception. All people - including us - easily see evil in others, but not in ourselves. That is why opinions differ so widely and that is why we can so easily be mistaken in our judgment and in the fight against it. We get excited about injustice and do not notice that in our eagerness we instinctively slip into it ourselves. Seeing through such mechanisms of deception is important in order to see evil more deeply. Only where this is successful can it be approached from the roots. The way of Jesus teaches us decisive things.
In a world of injustice he proclaimed a god of unconditional goodness - not a god of harmless goodness, but a realistic and radical kindness - a goodness who counts on enemies, but actively approaches them and tries to win them. In the name and in the strength of his Father, Jesus also called us humans to active kindness, to love our neighbor and enemy and to be non-violent. With this message, however, he was quickly met with opposition, and it has fared as it has done for many. He wanted to make peace, but provoked arguments. He came into the very situation in which we often find ourselves and in which new evil is constantly emerging.
In conflict, two possible ways of reacting instinctively suggest themselves: evasive or aggressive strike back. However, both ways lead to the evil continuing to work. Jesus decidedly took a third way. He did not avoid the conflict, nor did he fight back. In his words of judgment, he courageously exposed the evil and made its harsh consequences clear. However, when he was attacked for it himself, he did not respond to the violence with counter-violence. He has remained true to his own message of love for enemies and nonviolence. He has prayed for his enemies and would rather let himself be killed than become violent himself. His teaching and his life practice matched seamlessly. The inner voice of God that guided him was so clear that he did not allow his opponents to mislead him - neither to flee nor to counter-aggression. He tolerated being convicted of malefactors, criminals, even blasphemers. In the midst of voices accusing and condemning him, he went his way of loving enemies in obedience to his God of goodness.
In the middle of a world in which there is endless arguing about good and bad, the unity of life and teaching is the only light that can clearly show us a direction. Good cannot be achieved by evil means. With violence, if it is used politically wisely, one can curb other violence to a certain extent. With legal violence one can limit illegal violence, which is the task of politics. In this way alone, however, there can be no lasting peace or genuine justice. Only the way of Jesus shows how evil can be conquered at the root.
What does this mean for our everyday life? Most of the time we are not directly confronted with overt violence there. In a more subtle way, however, it begins in the everyday world, as a word of Jesus clearly suggests: "You have heard that it was said to the ancients: You shall not kill; ... But I say to you: Everyone who is his brother even if he is angry, he is said to have succumbed to judgment "(Mt 5: 21f.) The angry man suffers a similar fate as the murderer. With this, Jesus reveals that killing is preceded by much that belongs to the world of evil: anger and judgment. "Do not judge so that you will not be judged! For as you judge, you will be judged" (Mt 7: 1f), continues Jesus, and he asks challengingly: "Why do you see the splinter in your brother's eye, but that Don't you notice bars in your eye? " (Mt 7: 1-3)
Violence makes you blind, and judging makes you blind to your own mistakes. We see negative things too clearly in others, but we hardly discover them in ourselves. The real evil is usually not where we think we can see it directly. It goes deeper - in the distortion of perception. With regard to evil, our eyes are like lenses that discolor, they make others appear black and ourselves appear white. This deception mechanism is the real problem. He makes it so difficult to overcome evil. It has the effect that, in the fight against evil, we keep creating evil ourselves. So do we have to turn the tables and accuse ourselves? Again, caution is advised. An ordinary flipping of the charge does not get you anywhere. It only has the effect that we see superficial defects in us clearly and thus cover up deeper boils again. We then see the splinters stuck in our skin and overlook the bar in our heart.
There is something in us that makes us deeply insecure - a fear that we want to cover up and that distorts our eyes. Because of this, we can never overcome evil on our own. Only where we meet a love that accepts us despite our darkness can the stranglehold of insecurity and fear slowly loosen. Only there are we able to see more correctly step by step. The love of Jesus who gave himself up for his violent enemies is such a love. Wherever it reaches us, we become freer. But again: it is not our feeling of love. This would just be a new subtle form of how we cling to ourselves and obscure the dark in us. It is not our feeling of love that sets us free, but the love of another, the love of the heart of Jesus. On our part, belief is decisive, the belief that this other, strange love exists and that it wants to reach us.
In view of one's own insecurity and fear, in view of the routine, harshness and coldness that we often encounter in everyday life, and in view of the injustice and violence in the wide world, it is often not easy to believe in the power of love. We want to experience it emotionally, grasp and feel it intensely, and if this does not happen, we easily fall back on ourselves. The power of Christ's love, however, is not an external power, it is the power of the crucified who was himself destroyed by violence on the outside, but defeated it internally with his own faith.
How can we strengthen this belief? We are gathered today for the Eucharist in which we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. In this commemoration, the belief in that love, which is inwardly stronger than violent death, is addressed and awakened anew. - By coming together we also mutually strengthen our faith. Everyone becomes a help to the other.
If the big political world is preparing a 'war on terror', if it tries to curb terrorist violence and with legal violence, then it is our task as Christians to set another movement in motion - a mutual encouragement to believe in love . A love that is only emotional and romantic does not stand up to violence and injustice. However, the love of the crucified one has proven that it is stronger than death. Mutual encouragement to believe in this love is the Christian response to terror.
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