Building Bridges of Love

By Fr. Erl Dylan Tabaco, SSC
There’s a saying that goes, “violence begets violence.” We are accustomed to it. We’ve heard it many times and even witnessed it firsthand. From the macro to the micro level, it seems that violence affects all of us. No one is immune.


There is so much violence in our world today. Many young people rebel against their parents, pursuing what they think is best for themselves without considering the consequences of their decisions. Family members fight over inheritances, compromising relationships for the sake of material gain. Political parties engage in black propaganda against their opponents, spreading fake news that destroys reputations and undermines trust.


Around the world, various demonstrations lead to civil unrest and bloody encounters, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives. The number of migrants suffering as they flee their homelands due to political and economic chaos continues to rise. People are divided by their preferences, principles, beliefs, and affiliations, fostering bigotry, mistrust, contempt, and hatred.


This is our situation. This is how the vicious cycle of violence affects us all. When we become aware and vigilant about what is happening in our society, we often wish we could change the world and make it a better place where love, respect, and solidarity reign.


How do we change the present structure of our world where violence is part of it? How do we convince ourselves that violence and peace don’t coexist? How do we convey a powerful message to our brothers and sisters that instead of building walls between us, we should create bridges that connect us as part of God’s family? How do we transform ourselves into peace advocates so that violence can be slowly eradicated and harmonious relationships restored?


One of the famous Jewish laws in the book of Leviticus states “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Violence is against the will of God and destroys His divine plan for all His children. Though it was part of an old custom rooted in Jewish tradition, Jesus made it clear that vengeance and retaliation are contrary to Gospel values. He proposed a radical way to confront situations when someone has wronged us. Instead of harboring resentment and planning to retaliate, we should show goodness in the face of evil. Jesus said, “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.”


This is challenging for all of us, but it is the only way to counteract violence. Love, compassion, and kindness are non-negotiable virtues that we must live out in this darkened world. On our own, this is impossible. We always need the grace of God to tame our anger, our tendency to retaliate, and our violent impulses.
Jesus showed us the way to overcome these tendencies. He went to Mount Calvary, embracing the most humiliating form of death and the most excruciating pain ever suffered. While hanging on the cross, He spoke words of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”


This ultimate act of love and forgiveness sets the example for us to follow.


Featured Image (Google): Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son”