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Friday the 10th of February 2006

8:09 AM

practical non-violence pt. 3

Finally, in his third illustration, Jesus speaks directly about Rome.  "If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two."  Roman law entitled a soldier to require a Jew to carry their equipment (backpack), but it was equally clear that they could demand nothing more than one mile.  Jews had little choice but to begrudgingly tolerate this humiliating violation of their personhood, which reduced them to nothing but human packhorses.  But rather than telling people to stand up for their rights by refusing to submit to such an appalling abuse, Jesus adopts a far more creative, shock tactic.  Carry the soldier's pack a second mile.  Demonstrate generosity in the face of this outrageous indignity and imposition.  Rise above it.  Do the unexpected.  Turn the tables and so regain your dignity.

By now the laughter from Jesus' hearers would have became raucous.  They knew that if any soldier took up their offer, he could well find himself in serious trouble with his superiors, who were extremely disciplined in the implementation of the commonly accepted social laws.  In fact, it was more than likely that the soldier concerned would end up literally begging the willing "second miler" to stop and put the pack down in order to avoid the possibility of tough and humiliating disciplinary action from his commanding officer.

i am tremendously blessed with the opportunity to serve our Savior in Argentina alongside some dear friends and comrades this summer.  then again, i am tremendously blessed to be breathing right now.
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