My latest article is titled “Catholics and Gun Control” and appears in the current issue of St. Anthony Messenger. Here is an excerpt:
Some would argue that the issue of gun control is a political issue, not a moral one. And indeed politicians are everywhere visible these days. either arguing for the rights of gun owners or for the right to be safe. Much of it is rhetoric with no significant change.
Perhaps the morality exists at a larger level. Perhaps the issue isn’t so much about right and wrong as it is about trying to live a life that is consistent with Jesus’ message.
I believe that, to fully grasp the impact of Jesus’ revolutionary message, we have to read the entire Bible. What one sees working through the Old Testament is violence! Lots of it! And much of that violence is not only condoned by but caused by God! God is referred to among other things as “Lord of Heaven’s Armies”. God intervenes time and again to tilt the scales of battle on behalf of His Jewish nation. God leads Jews to victory time and again (except when they doubt or reject him). We cheer David’s killing of Goliath. We rejoice when Ester saves her Jewish people from genocide and the bad guy Haman is executed. But in the Old Testament there are also hints of what is coming. Isaiah, for example, calls to reflect on days to come when shields will be hammered into plowshares and swords into pruning hooks. Ecclesiastes notes that not only is there a time for war but a time for peace. At several points in the Old Testament. there is the hint of a future new order.
It is only within the context of the violence of the Old Testament that we can fully appreciate the remarkable power of Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness. The focus is no longer on payback to our enemies. Jesus suggests something different.
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This is the best piece that you have ever written. Fear is real and it is powerful. Machiavelli wrote that it is better for a leader to be feared than to be loved if he cannot be both. The survivors of Mengele’s human experiments on children said that they experienced “blind fear” when they saw him. Would it not have eased the fear a little if they had known that US and Russian tanks were headed toward Mengele? And yet I know that I cannot ever shake the horrible images of the Vietnam war where so many innocent people were horribly and permanently injured. So all I can do is to take Jesus at his word and, as my Sister of Charity fiend says, “Listen to Him”. This is ultimately a question of conscience and I do not know if I have the courage of a Martin Luther King who must have dealt with fear and who died because of hate.