Yesterday, a video was posted showing before and after photos of war-torn Aleppo, Syria. No words can truly capture the impact of hatred on human life quite like those photos communicated. Yet, without words, how would anyone know the source of this destruction?
The image and words could also be easily misrepresented without the influence of the community. One person could show these pictures and describe them in a way that manipulated their true meaning. However, the community, with a multitude of eyes and minds, engages a twisted view and helps bring out the truth.
In today’s reading, Jesus is teaching a crowd using words and inviting people to listen. In the midst of the lesson, his mother and brothers attempt to interrupt and want his attention. Responding to their requests, Jesus turns from words to images. He invites us to see each other differently. He says, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
What would your life look like if you saw the people around you as family? Not strangers, enemies, or threats to your safety, but as people you are biologically connected to? Would the images from Aleppo look differently if that was where your family lived? Would it change your neighborhood if the houses next to you were all occupied by family members?
Jesus has told this crowd to love their enemies with an agape kind of love. Meaning, love as though your enemy is a child of God. He has told them to pray for those who abuse us, avoid judgment, extend forgiveness and give generously to others. All of this stuff is really hard to do.
We may be family, but families still fight. They can even be quite cruel to each other. However, a blood connection is more likely to subdue our anger and aggression than no connection at all. We can look at the images of Aleppo from a distance and give thanks we don’t live there. However, those images can reflect our souls. Anger is easily justified. Hatred is often a first response and the word of God can be difficult. But one gives life and the other destroys it. Choose life. (Luke 8: 19-21)
Click to see: Aleppo before and after