Word For Today – Monday, 15 March 2021 – by Priest Director, Fr. Sam Randall

Written by on 17/03/2021

Word For Today – Monday, 15 March 2021 – by Priest Director, Fr. Sam Randall

The Levite and his Concubine Invited to Lodge at Gibeah’ by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout Picture shared by Creative Commons Licence

Violence and compassion.

The issue of violence is never far from the news and recently the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in London has brought to our attention the disturbing feature of male violence against women.  My daughter lives opposite Clapham Common and her little children attend one of the area’s nursery and primary schools.  Following Sarah’s disappearance, the school was shut to allow the police forensic department to investigate the grounds of the property.  The area where she lives was understandably tense.

The statistics are shocking: Globally 38% of women have experienced violence and this does not include sexual harassment and it may be as high as 70%.  Domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, trafficking, honour killings, forced marriage, FGM, stalking and sexual harassment.  Pornography is not innocent and harmless.  There are many different forms of violence and physical violence is only one aspect of a deeper malaise.  In the Old Testament you can find some shocking stories of violence and perhaps the worst is in Judges 19.  The story of a Levite and his concubine (Jud. 19-21).  The lectionary misses this story.  The Bible is not always an easy read, but it does not avoid difficult questions and the reality of the sinful behaviour of those who feature in its pages.  What I find remarkable is that not only is sin judged, and there are always consequences, but redemption is also offered.

The story of the adultery and murder by David because of his lust for Bathsheba is probably familiar to you (2 Sam. 11: 1-27).  The passage ends with ‘the thing David had done displeased the Lord.’  Bathsheba features in Jesus’ genealogy as given by Matthew although she is not named but called ‘Uriah’s wife.’  The mention of the women in Jesus’ genealogy is remarkable for this period and Matthew’s intention is not to disregard Bathsheba but to emphasise Jesus as the ‘son of David’.  Rather than interpreting this passage as an unfortunate example of Patriarchy we could read this differently and see that, although unnamed Bathsheba is included and, although David’s intention had been to obliterate the memory of Uriah the Lord restores him.  This is also an example of the brutal honesty of the Bible in its description of human sin and violence.

The message and example of Jesus is that of radical non-violence and compassion.  What is greater that religious rites, rules, and traditions?  Compassion.  Whenever challenged and condemned by the religious leaders of his day over Sabbath rules or regulations regarding purity practices Jesus’ response was to emphasise compassion but he also acknowledged the depth of the problem which lay in the recesses of the heart.  Jesus said that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  (Matt. 5: 28).  Legislation and the law offer protection and security, but we cannot root out the endemic violence and sin that resides in the human heart with legislation.  What is needed is repentance, conversion and the Spirit of Christ.

May Radio Maria be a voice of compassion and peace in all our homes as through our broadcasts we seek to open hearts and lives to the transforming message and presence of Christ.

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