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A reflection from Rev John Gilmore (NCCA President)

 ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ John 13:34

The past few days have been confronting for us all. We have been coming to terms with the deaths of women in Ballarat, Victoria, and then the tragic event in the Bondi Junction shopping centre and now most recently the stabbing attack in the Christ the Good Shepherd Church at Wakeley. Making sense of these happenings is difficult.

We are all, at one level, powerless in the face of such targeted hostility. We know that violence is always wrong and leads to great suffering and vulnerability.

We share a deep and prayerful commitment to community, unity and peace, and with all of this we are faced with a number of risks.

The risk of ‘escalated blame’ is very real. In some ways it is natural to demonise the other and to blame them and to want to punish them for what was done. When such punishment is explored it seems that no proposed punishment is ever enough.

A second blame pathway is to look for reasons as to why such events have happened.  Was it the person’s religious commitment or is there some other reason? Answers can lead to generalisations that all people who share a particular common perspective are to be feared. The outcome of this pathway is a growth in anxiety and suspicion.

Another risk is a growing fear of others. Other people are not to be trusted and are to be feared, particularly if they look, worship or dress differently to me. This leads to a loss of our common humanity.

None these outcomes are of the way of Christ. The Christlike perspective involves holding two realities close together. One being an honest and open understanding of these events and the other being a deep commitment to the way of love (agape) incarnated in Jesus.

This way of Christ leads us to life, builds compassion, creates unity and holds people accountable for what has happened. This path is a prayerful, honest and at times a lonely one. It is the ’narrow path’ and it leads to life.

Jesus says to us in John 13:34: ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ 

Out of these words of Jesus comes not the energy of blame and fear, rather the life of sacrificial, forgiving and renewing love.

Rev John Gilmore

NCCA President