Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

conversion, faith, fear, Gospel, New Testament, politics, St Benedict

Vengeance: Is It Ever Justifiable?

Vengeance: is it ever justifiable?
Time for Revenge Clock Retribution Get Even 3d Illustration

Vengeance: is it ever justifiable?

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

In the Christian liturgy, this Gospel passage was read on Wednesday, October 3rd. We can picture it–kind of: the Son of God is unwelcome in a village and the “sons of thunder,” James and John offer to “call down fire from heaven to consume them.” Clearly the apostles have the power to do what they suggest, they’re nearing the end of three years of apprenticeship with the Creator of the Universe.

In this passage, we readily infer racism, ethnic rivalry, humiliation; all leading to rightful indignation, outrage and vengeance on the part of the apostles. But that’s some payback, isn’t it? ‘Lord do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

He turned and rebuked them and they headed to another village.

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem. He was heading to his death. As they neared Jerusalem: the lies, deceit and cowardice of what he would soon face must have loomed at times, impossibly huge. And yet, Jesus merely rebukes his friends who still don’t understand his mission and moves on, in search of lost souls: of you and me.

Over two thousand years later, we still don’t understand the Christian message, do we? We side with James and John who walked and slept with him for three years. Like us who eat his body and drink his blood sometimes daily and yet….it takes woefully little to ignite that simmering distrust of the Father, especially when injustice reigns. As it seems to be doing everywhere I look.

We know the answer to vengeance: is it ever justifiable?



And yet we insist on adding buts, like just wars or “we have a right to speak out for the truth….”

Until we consider Jesus. his behavior, words, actions during the 24 Hours of the Passion of Christ.

And then we’re reduced to silence. To pondering our nothingness.

On Humility (51-54)

The seventh degree of humility is that he consider himself lower and of less account than anyone else, and this not only in verbal protestation but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet, “But I am a worm and no man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people” (Ps. 21:7). “After being exalted, I have been humbled and covered with confusion” (Pa. 87:16). And again, “It is good for me that You have humbled me, that I may learn Your commandments” (Ps. 118:71).

I am a worm and no man.


Really—these are the words of King David: foreshadowing Christ’s words on the cross:

What about those times when we know–that injustice has been done?

There’s no question of innocence being judged as guilt. Vengeance: Is it ever justifiable?

In the words of Luisa Piccarreta:

My stripped Jesus, allow me to pour myself out, otherwise I cannot go on seeing You suffer so much.
How can this be? You, who clothe all created things – the sun with light, the heavens with stars, the
plants with leaves, the birds with feathers – You, stripped!? What daring! But my loving Jesus,
through the light He sends forth from His eyes, tells me: “Be silent, O child – it was necessary that
I be stripped, in order to repair for many who strip themselves of every modesty, of purity and of
innocence; who strip themselves of every good and virtue, and of my Grace, clothing themselves with
every brutality, and living like brutes. With my virginal blush I wanted to repair for so many
dishonesties, luxuries and brutal pleasures. Therefore, be attentive to everything I do; pray and repair
with Me, and calm yourself.”

How do we see the world?

vengeance: is it ever justifiable?

Either we trust Jesus, or we don’t.

Writing from a Roman prison St. Paul advised thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, and worth of excellence.”

Can’t we do that from our living rooms?

Yes–if we resolve to guard what we allow into the sacred spaces of our homes and our minds by taking custody of our senses.

Much of the reporting about the Church, from Catholic media outlets, seems interested in stirring up unrest, fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, and more. There might be more peace and less anxiety in our lives if we curb our media intake. That’s not to suggest that we should be ignorant about what’s going on. It is to suggest that at the end of the day, it would seem to be a simple either/or.

Either I trust God or I don’t. And not just with the small stuff but with the big stuff: the future of the country, the Synod in Rome, our children, our own lives, His faithfulness. 

Post Tags :
book of heaven, fairness, fr john riccardo, justice, new testament, racism, Rule of St Benedict

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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