The Reading: Proverbs 6:16-19
“… hands that shed innocent blood …” (v.17) RSV
Killing is not condemned in the Bible, whether it be for a capital offence or in war. But murder is strongly condemned. The Lord is very protective of the innocent and the defenceless. No one has the right to take the life of an innocent person for whatever reason. Murder, whether out of the passion of the moment or premeditated, is not to be tolerated by society.
The first murder is found at the start of the Bible when Cain slew his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). Cain was jealous of his brother’s goodness and his acceptability with God. Out of anger and envy he killed his innocent brother. Jesus mentions this archetypal murder when he says: “… upon you may come all the righteous blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah … who you murdered …” (Mathew 23:35).
Even if the murderer gets away with it in this life, he will not do so when he faces the Judge of all men.
Most of us may read this and feel we have not sinned in this way. Murder is abhorrent to us. Yet Jesus teaches us that murder is not only achieved by the literal shedding of blood, for we can murder people with the words we say and the attitude we adopt. In our reading today which is from the Sermon on the Mount, he says: “whoever insults … whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5: 21-22).
Our curses can be powerful and self-fulfilling. If we get angry or frustrated and start cursing children (especially our own), or other car drivers, or our boss, or work colleagues, we will end up doing them (and maybe ourselves too) irreparable harm.
But rather, as St Paul says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). Let us give life to people, rather than rob them of it.
Thank you Lord for those who have loved me and built me up. May I do good to others and not harm. Amen.
1 Whom did Moses murder?
2 Why did David not take King Saul’s life in the desert cave?