Spared by Courage

Kathleen

When my mom was teaching high school in Nashville in the 1970s a kid in one of her classes brought a gun to school. He was planning to shoot another student.

A girl in class told her what was going on and my mom, in her fierceness, walked right up to the boy and demanded the gun. He yielded and handed it to her.

Later she said that was the craziest thing she had ever done as teacher. She realized she could have been shot, but in that moment she did not hesitate or doubt what needed to happen.

I wonder where the girl who told, and those two boys are today. What became of them? What of their families?

How fortunate they were to be spared that day some forty years ago.

“Without a cause”

Matthew_513_28This afternoon I was reading an account of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and the words “without a cause” stood out like neon:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21,22)

I suspect everyone thinks and feels that they have “cause” to be angry in the moment, but was that really what Jesus said or intended? It seems to contradict the life He lived. Particularly His words later in the same chapter:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5: 43,44)

The latter is a worthy goal yet difficult to achieve if we are holding a personal “cause” so closely that we justify our anger.

But what does the text say? What do the oldest available manuscripts say? I pulled a book off the shelf to find out. Out of 24 different manuscripts “without a cause” is absent from seven, including the oldest.

Manuscript name, includes “without a cause”?

1. Papyrus 67 [P67] “Barcelona” (AD 125–50): No
2. Coptic [copsa, meg, bo] (third–fifth century): Yes
3. Old Syriac [syrs, c] (third–fourth century): Yes
4. Vaticanus [B] (AD 400): No
5. Sinaiticus [χ] (AD 400): No
6. Sinaiticus [χ2] (after AD 400): Yes
7. Old Latin [ita,b,c,d,f,h,k,l,q] (fourth–thirteenth century): Yes
8. Vulgate [vg] (fourth–fifth century): No
9. Ethiopic [ethms] (about AD 500): No
10. Ethiopic [ethTH] (about AD 500): Yes
11. Georgian [geo] (fifth century): Yes
12. Armenian [arm] (fifth century): Yes
13. Peshitta/Palestinian [syrp,pal] (fifth–sixth century): Yes
14. Bezae Canta [D] (AD 500): Yes
15. Washington [W] (AD 500): Yes
16. Old Latin [itaur] (AD 700): No
17. Byzantine (Byz [E S]) (AD 600–800): Yes
18. Paris [L] (AD 800): Yes
19. Old Church Slavonic [slav] (ninth century): Yes
20. St. Gall [?] (AD 900): Yes
21. Tbilisi [?] (AD 900): Yes
22. Greek Lectionaries [Lect] (AD 900–1576): Yes
23. Family 1,13 [f 1,13] (eleventh–fifteenth century): Yes
24. Miniscule 1292 [1292] (thirteenth century): No

This isn’t a new discussion (That’s how I knew which book to check), it’s been debated for more than 1000 years and the debate will likely continue. My conclusion? I see the statement “without a cause” in verse 22, answered by verse 44 – 46:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?”

If I apply that message, it doesn’t allow much room for “cause” against anyone.

Refugees: Defining moments

Appreciative of all those posting about refugees over the past few days and particularly those focused on the responsibility of Christianity.

I was moved to tears last April when I heard Patrick Kearon’s speech.

Hearing portions of it again, with the addition of images, music, and stories, brings those feelings back. I agree with his sentiments:

“This moment [of being a refugee] will not define them, but our response will help define us.”

Personal experience with refugees, right off the plane, and with those working to rebuild their lives, having escaped war and the horrors that come with it, has shaped my outlook on life.

There is some Mormon specific terminology in his speech but otherwise, it is simple Christianity. A Christianity I think even an atheist can appreciate.

Laos to Nashville: One-on-one experience

Laos_1980I had my first experience with refugees from Laos in 1980. I’m the boy in the photo on the left. My mother was involved in helping several families, who had been living in refugee camps in Thailand, resettle in Nashville. At age six, in some ways, my job wasn’t much different than her’s. Be myself and be a friend.

They had to flee their country because their lives were in danger. Some of their family did not survive.

As an adult I’ve been fortunate to know many former refugees. Today most are well established citizens because someone, years earlier, was willing to help them navigate the challenges of assimilating into a new world.

I share this with the hope that it may benefit those with concerns about refugees today.

There is a Lao saying, “Ten mouths speaking are not as good as seeing with one’s own eyes; ten eyes that see are not as good as what one has in one’s hand.”

One-on-one experience makes a difference.