“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
These words are from the reading for this Sunday 30 August.
They are so fitting for this week in Aotearoa as we have witnessed the sentencing of the Christchurch terrorist and murderer.
We have watched in awe the courage of the survivors as they addressed the court and told their stories of pain and anguish.
They have claimed their right to tell their story boldly and bravely.
And our justice system which we know at times can be flawed has created a process and a place for this to happen.
Justice Mander, carrying the weight of this responsibility on our behalf with care and compassion, described each person in his sentencing address.
Not just a list of names but each one given their individual paragraph.
Justice Mander and I grew up in the same street.
I have been thinking this week about the role he has had to play – what in life could prepare you for such a challenge.
Every person involved in supporting the victims and their families – from first responders to community workers to medical teams to police and court staff – they have all had to draw on every strength they had to fulfil their role.
And because of their support we have been able to witness the courage of the survivors.
Their range of emotions from anger to forgiveness and the whole gamut in between.
The strength and depth of faith of the Muslim community has again been on display.
Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome in the first century, gives the community a portrait of how to live:
Let love be genuine
rejoice in hope
be patient in suffering
weep with those who weep
do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
These are also principles of the Muslim faith.
As we move forward community leaders like Anjum Rahman ask us
So sentence has been passed. The next question for Aotearoa is: what are we going to do now? This is not the end of the story. It isn’t over. There is still so much work to be done. We each need to think about what our role will be in preventing hate. (tweet 28 August)
As we move back into election mode we all need to watch our reactions, our language, and call out those around us who fall into the trap of blame, vitriol and hatred.
False news and conspiracy theories are also part of our new normal now and we can all be careful not to share these.
Our team of 5 million has tackled Covid; let’s stay the course and be a team of 5 million to tackle hatred and racism and other forms of evil.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’
No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.