3 Maccabees 3: 1-10 ~ "When the impious king comprehended this situation, he became so infuriated that not only was he enraged against those Jews who lived in Alexandria, but was still more bitterly hostile toward those in the countryside; and he ordered that all should promptly be gathered into one place, and put to death by the most cruel means. While these matters were being arranged, a hostile rumor was circulated against the Jewish nation by men who conspired to do them ill, a pretext being given by a report that they hindered others from the observance of their customs. The Jews, however, continued to maintain good will and unswerving loyalty toward the dynasty; but because they worshiped God and conducted themselves by his law, they kept their separateness with respect to foods. For this reason they appeared hateful to some; but since they adorned their style of life with the good deeds of upright people, they were established in good repute among all men. Nevertheless those of other races paid no heed to their good service to their nation, which was common talk among all; instead they gossiped about the differences in worship and foods, alleging that these people were loyal neither to the king nor to his authorities, but were hostile and greatly opposed to his government. So they attached no ordinary reproach to them. The Greeks in the city, though wronged in no way, when they saw an unexpected tumult around these people and the crowds that suddenly were forming, were not strong enough to help them, for they lived under tyranny. They did try to console them, being grieved at the situation, and expected that matters would change; for such a great community ought not be left to its fate when it had committed no offense. And already some of their neighbors and friends and business associates had taken some of them aside privately and were pledging to protect them and to exert more earnest efforts for their assistance."
I like to begin the day with a chapter of scripture and prayer time. Once I finished the Bible, I decided to make my way through the Apocryphal books in the same way. Last Friday I came to the passage above, not realizing how timely it would prove to be.
On the morning of Saturday, October 27th, Robert Bowers, 46, stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the affluent Squirrel Hill neighborhood shouting hate for Jews and killing eleven worshipers in a 20-minute attack.
The passage illustrates the fact that the Jewish people have been targets of cruelty and violence for more than two thousand years. Think about that for a minute. A race of people have been tortured and killed for countless generations.
The prejudice against the Jewish people has always been there, for reasons beyond understanding. Factions of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities hate each other enough to kill each other in the name of God. Besides the fact that they commit acts of violence in the name of a loving God, the truly bizarre part is that they're doing it in the name of THE SAME GOD!
When Ishmael and Isaac parted ways, the Arab and Jewish races were born. The Arabs fashioned the Muslim faith to worship the God of Abraham (Ishmael's father). They adopted the same God, but chose to worship him in a different way.
Then, Jesus Christ performed his ministry. Those who accepted Christ as the Messiah became Christians, and followers of traditional Judaism are still waiting for the Messiah. Again, same God, different take.
In the Christian tradition the number three is the number of completion. If that's true, then perhaps the fact that there are three primary schools of thought regarding the same God (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is no accident. Maybe we're SUPPOSED TO view God from three different angles. If so, then such violence becomes even STUPIDER!!!!!!!
Bottom line, we're three different squads of the same team. Yes, we live in a divisive time in which cruelty is fueled by opportunists posing as leaders. But, it's precisely during times such as these that people of good faith must stand up and demonstrate the virtues of love and tolerance.