John 18: 10-11 King James Version
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given me?’”
At the birth of Jesus, God incarnate on earth, we hear the angels of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth proclaim and ask us to claim, “Peace on Earth and goodwill among men!” Jesus was a radical lover and peacemaker, even while stirring up the complacency and limited inclusion and legalism of his own religion and society. He was always turning the known way of human institutions and behaviors upside down and inside out, seeking no revenge for those who betrayed, denied, mocked, tortured, crucified, doubted, misunderstood, disobeyed, or ignored him. How do each of us fit into this model of the way to live even on our smaller world stage and in our own day to day lives? Do we put our rage back in the sheath? Do we forgo the angry words and righteous indignation or desire for revenge? Are we willing to forgive 70 x 7 and turn the other cheek as instructed by Jesus? Do we turn our swords into plowshares? Do we follow the commandment not to kill and to love God with everything we are and have, and our neighbor (everyone!) as ourselves?
What a high and beautiful standard of living the Christian life that Jesus demonstrates for us all, during both the ups and the horrible downs of his ministry. Maybe we can just make it practical on a daily basis by making no unkind judgments, passing on no hateful e-mails, jokes, or gossip, and doing what the 12-Step programs exhort: “Even righteous anger is a luxury we cannot afford!” and “We MUST quit fighting everyone and everything, seeking not to defend or be right!”
“Progress, not perfection,” the 12 Steps remind us. Easter does too; we are to walk in His steps, one conscious step at a time, being the hands and feet of Christ in the present, while drinking the cup of Christ given to us as the good and perfect will of God. Do we hear God’s will with our “right” ear and follow it with a peaceful, surrendered, open, trusting heart? Let this be our prayer and our purpose as we are reborn by the grace of God, again and again, in the challenging moments of life.