It often amazes me that there are so many problems or conflicts, whether we are looking at a local or universal level of existence, that could be saved by the reference to and living in full the second part of the greatest commandment of them all. You know the one I mean, I am sure! Love one another as I have loved you!

When we examine the causes of things as little as a fight between two siblings and as a war between nations, the ultimate solution is simple. The answer is simple: love. Why is it so difficult to get people to realise this truth and to put it into practice in their individual situations? If someone could find the formula to do this, I am sure they would win the Nobel Prize for Peace!

Jesus’ life is a living example of this principle at work. In many ways He would have been justified in fighting back against the injustices that were inflicted upon Him. If He had you can be pretty sure who would have won! Yet He did not! Why did Jesus do what He did? The simplest answer to this question is: love. Jesus not only wanted to reveal to us the wonders of God’s love for us, He also wanted to give us an absolute and concrete example of what that love means when lived out in the daily events of our lives.

Jesus did not return violence for violence and this does not bring us any closer to a solution of our differences. Jesus chose to break the cycle of violence by choosing to return love for hatred and gentleness for violence. If we want a lasting peace in Ireland, the Middle East, various places of war in Africa or in the petty vengeance games of two out of relationship kids, the answer is simple. One side, or better still, both sides, must choose to break the cycle of violence and to stop seeking revenge. No matter how difficult it may be, the two sides have to begin to trust and love one another again. The violence of vengeance does not know where to stop. Love knows that the time and place to stop is now!

It is a courageous decision to stop the cycle of violence. However, if at least one side is willing to do so, there is hope for peace. We all know that justice will eventually meted out to all people on judgment day. Let us leave the ‘vengeance getting’ to God who will definitely be far more just and merciful than we are likely to be.

Am I a peacemaking person or do I return violence for violence and perpetuate the problem at hand?

Lord Jesus, the courageous decisions of your life to return love for hatred and to turn the other cheek stand before us all as the perfect response to all situations in life. Help me to follow your example and to stand firm in the truth and yet do so in a loving and merciful way.