A good friend of mine recently forwarded an article to me which spoke of the discovery of the remains of a 1,600-year-old Byzantine basilica at the site of the Councils of Nicaea, at the bottom of a lake in northwest Turkey. According to a local expert, the church was most likely built in the 4th century in honor of St. Neophytos, who was martyred by Roman soldiers (in a most brutal manner) during the time of Roman emperor Diocletian in 303.
Reading this has once again caused me to reflect on how, throughout the ages, we have used violence to silence people who dare to threaten the status quo – those who dare to speak truth to laws, dogmas, and social mores which are not life-giving. To take it further, what of using violence against each other in the name of religion? The fruits of such behavior can be manifested in many ways, such as through racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, and classicism. This certainly also gives us an opportunity to consider our image of God. Is it one who is “all-powerful”? Angry? Vengeful? Or, what about a God who is vulnerable, peaceful, and loving? To go even deeper, what or who is God to me?
On a personal level, I know that I, as an imperfect human being, must also consider what violence lurks in my own heart at various levels, even if it be in thought only. I pray that I will always strive to have a heart which is peaceful and compassionate.