On Being Violent

And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. (St. Matthew 11:12)

I love it that nothing of the words of our Blessed Lord has the mark of mediocrity. It’s never just a truism – something that Confucius could have said. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. [Somebody once said, If all we had against the darkness of the world was one candle, I would rather curse the darkness.]

Violence – was Our Lord for violence?  Well, He wasn’t for the violence of Cain.

Who introduced violence into the human story? Cain! That violence has stayed with us right to our own time…right tonight as I am talking, there are Cains, murdering unjustly, hatefully, enviously, in hatred of holiness.

That’s the quintessence of the crime of Cain. What he hated in Abel was that his sacrifice was acceptable to God. He didn’t say how can I make my sacrifice acceptable to God, but how can I get rid of my brother who seems to be more favorable in the eyes of God. Well, that’s not the violence that Our Lord was talking about obviously.

We think of another kind of violence, the violence of Elias the Prophet. That was a holy kind of violence, zeal for the glory of God. He was inspired by God to slaughter 400 of the prophets of Baal, false prophets of a fake non-entity, worshiped in  place of God. That was violence. But that’s not even the violence Our Lord is talking about here.

Our Lord is talking about the violence that you can see by looking at John the Baptist. He never killed anybody. The one victim of his violence was himself. The violence of those who discipline themselves by penance and by sacrifice and who expose themselves to real danger. This is a topic that is very, very sensitive to my heart these days.

We hear people saying, Well, Fr. Feeney did some wrong things. Yes, he did some wrong things. He exposed himself to being hurt. If Fr. Feeney had not been willing to do and say the things that brought upon him the smears of the world — and the persecutions — he would never have made a dent on the age in which we live. And the heresy of liberalism would have triumphed gloriously!

I don’t see any other way it could have been challenged or stopped. Until a person is willing to say the truth in such a way as to be willing to take the punishment for saying it, he might as well save his breath and keep quiet. (Br. Francis: On St. Matthew’s Gospel — Ch. 11)