Ukraine. Heart breaking bravery versus ruthless cowardice. The odds are stacked against the just. Innocent lives suffer the consequence of one man’s action. This is an extreme example but a truthful one of what we can do to the other when we have power and authority. Missiles hitting targets, tanks rolling across borders, war in Europe. An exasperated friend cried, “2022. Have we learnt nothing?”
Two years on with this pandemic, there were many lessons taught. We are on the earth together. We share this world together. The virus does not make any distinctions, it is not prejudiced. Rich or poor, powerful or less, it cannot differentiate the colour of skin or tell our nationalities. It only recognises the equality of the human person. WE are all in this together. No one must be left behind. Maybe, we have learnt nothing.
We cannot ignore that life is a consequence of decisions and action, both our own and other people’s, many of whom we do not even know. These few days, many lives have been and will be unnecessarily lost in Ukraine. We are not in full control, we can never be, whoever we are. A virus has been telling us that. Today it is the same lesson but from a more forceful, violent perspective. Have we learnt nothing?
‘There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.’ (Today’s Gospel)
Every Sunday we reflect on a Gospel passage. Sometimes the language is difficult. But every week they always lead to the same lesson: Love. We don’t need to attend any scripture class to know this. The whole bible is summarized in one word: Love. Love one another. Why are we reluctant to commit and invest in the lesson of love? There is an endless list of excuses.
Love is a childish plea. High up in government or in authority, in politics or business, love as a policy has always been a non-starter, dismissed without a thought, embarrassing even to mention, an idealistic fantasy, a ridiculous notion, or at its kindest, simply impractical. Governments have the power and authority to call for war but not love.
A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart. Love is not a policy coming from the top of human organisations. Love instead comes from the depths of the human person. Only the human person, me and you, us, not governments, have the power and authority to love. It begins with us as a human person. Only when we love as one will be able to dream of a government who will govern with love. An idealistic fantasy?
Love is not easy. There is a fear to love especially if we are fewer with this ideology. In Moscow, there have been protests about the war. Who knows the minds and hearts of the Russian troops on Ukrainian soil? Are they for this war? For many, probably not. But fear to love is real and for them comes at a cost – their life or the Ukrainian’s. In a consoling way, these maybe good signs of love sprouting, sound fruits from sound trees. 2022. Maybe we have learnt something. We need to start to grow our trees.
“Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. So let us thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Second Reading)
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time