“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5: 43-48). The Gospel reading for Saturday, March 12th is always a challenging one, but perhaps, never more so than in a situation of conflict, war and violence. I am sure we were all shocked to wake up to the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that we are heartbroken to watch the ever escalating conflict. Day by day we learn of increasing violence, destruction and horror. We see that millions of childen, women and men are forced from their homes in search of safety, some even leaving their homeland.
We can only stare in disbelief as the number of those killed and wounded rise and when we see that essential infrastructure, homes, schools and hospitals are damaged and even destroyed by indiscriminate shelling. As we mourn those who have died we recognise that it is sadly evident that the instruments of modern warfare are no respectors of age or vulnerability. It is tempting to turn ‘righteous anger’ into a ‘self-righteous’ desire for vengeance and to be filled with ill will towards and hatred for the people of Russia. The Gospel, however, is incompromising in its call to love, even to calling enemies to love each other.
In recent days as I have struggled to make sense of the unfolding conflict in Ukraine I have been thinking of the words of a song called ‘Russians’ written and sung by Sting in 1985, a few years before the end of the Cold War. He has just performed it again on social media. His words remind us of our common humanity and of the fact that most of us simply want to live ordinary lives, beautiful ordinary lives in which love exists.
“We share the same biology, regardless of ideology, And what might save us, me and you, Is that the Russians love their children too”
We all love our children and most of us want to live in peace alongside our neighbours. I hear that call to love in the Gospel, and I hear it in Sting’s words also. Let us pray that a spirit of love and peace transforms the hearts of all those caught up in conflict – in Ukraine and in other parts of the world also.
Photo by @ehmitrich on Unsplash