Once I heard a rabbi at a peace meeting in the early 1980s speak about the rainbow as a transformation of a symbol of violence – the bow and arrow – into a symbol of peace and reconciliation.
Today that image touches me deeply. I’m going out to a community that has been plagued for years with violence and killings. It is the ninth day after the burial of a man who was killed there and whose body was left and partially eaten by dogs.
I go in sadness – but what can I do to offer hope? What can I say in a community plagued by violence?
The readings offer me a clue: Genesis 9: 1-13 and Mark 8: 27-33.
The myth of the Flood and Noah’s rescue points, I believe, to the consequences of sin. Even a small word, a little lie, a rumor can spread like wildfire and consume a community, a family, a nation, creating divisions and setting and way open to violence.
Violence begets violence. That we understand. But we sometimes forget that lies, greed, an unkind word can generate violence.
But God wants to transform our violence into reconciliation.
But even more, with Christ we see another way.
He is not the Messiah expected by some of the apostles – a warrior who would come and violently overthrow the Romans and put the Jewish people back into power.
No, he was, as Isaiah notes in the Songs of the Suffering Servant, one who turns all this upside down. He will not take life; he gives his life. His weapon is the cross, not the sword. He is the source of a love that embraces enemies and seeks reconciliation.
The photo was taken on June 30, 2015