How can you interrupt the cycle of violence?
This week we hear the story of Jesus' crucifixion in the gospel of Luke and the various interactions he has both with those crucifying him and those being crucified with him. What is striking about these interaction is not just what Jesus does and says on the cross, but what he does not do or say. As noted by one of the people being crucified next to him, Jesus has been arrested, sentenced, and is being killed unjustly. He has not done anything wrong. He is being killed because he is a threat to those in power, both within his community and in the hierarchy of the oppressive Roman Empire. He is being taunted by both the Roman soldiers overseeing his death and by one of the people dying with him. And in the midst of all this violence, Jesus does not respond the way people expect him to. As one person implores him to do, he does not save himself. As others hurl insults at him, he does not respond in kind.
Instead, in the face of all this physical, emotional, and verbal violence, he responds not with hate, but with love. He responds not with accusation, but with forgiveness. He responds not with violence, but with compassion. In responding to violence with love, forgiveness, and compassion, he interrupts the cycle of violence, and invites a new way forward that otherwise would never be available. In the face of hate, he invites love. In the face of oppression, he invites freedom. In the face of death, he invites new life. And while it might not have changed the outcome of that day, its affect rippled outward into the future, through time and history, and created the new possibility of non-violent resistance in places and times that were previously unimagined.
This week, pay attention to where you are being met with violence, of all shapes and sizes. How can you respond in a way that opens up a new path, either for you and/or others? Maybe this looks like ending a relationship, or offering forgiveness, or holding another's pain with compassion. Whatever it is, see how this response creates new possibilities in the world, both in your life and the lives of others.