Isaiah (26:1-6) is speaking hope—return and restoration. God will bring the people back and reestablish them. The nation that is just will be ushered into the city. There will be right order and right relations among the people.
Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J was one of the Jesuit martyrs in El Salvador in 1989. He analyzed the effects of war and violence on the people of El Salvador. Violence and, in the case of Israel—exile, will disrupt relations among people. People will be polarized into us and them. The right order requisite for justice will be diminished or destroyed.
God is promising return and restoration. Justice will prevail because the nation has re-discovered a firm purpose. The life of the nation and its people will be based on trust in God. The exile has shown that they cannot trust militarized violence to keep them in peace. Peace does not come at the tip of the sword; it comes from trust in God.
Isaiah issues a stern warning. If the rulers of the nation once again become high and mighty and haughty, God will bring them down. God humbles those in high places, especially who ignore the plight of the people, especially the poor and needy.
The oppressed, the poor and the needy, will rise up. Violence is not necessary to produce change. Stassen and others have shown the power of nonviolence to bring about justice for the oppressed. Gandhi’s salt march brought down the British Empire in India—the people led by Gandhi refused to cooperate with the oppressors and British domination was brought down.
Blessed, blessed indeed, is he who comes in the name of the nonviolent God (Psalm 118). God is merciful and compassionate. Thus, we can take refuge in God. God opens the gates of justice so we can enter the Kin-dom. God will answer the people, especially the poor and oppressed. Maybe part of the reason for the preferential option for the poor is that poor and oppressed people place their trust where it counts—in God. God will grant salvation, healing and wholeness. God will take them from poverty to prosperity. They will have what they need in order to have life to the full.
Words. Words. Words. How often we multiply words and babble before God. Jesus tells us (Mt 7:21, 24-27) that words alone do not count. God is looking for action. Is what we do in conformity with God’s purpose? All too often we pray and then do what is in accord with human values—we bomb our enemies instead of loving them and forgiving them.
Jesus once again uses a story to show us that we have a choice. In Deuteronomy, the writer tells us we can choose life or death. Here Jesus tells us that we can choose to build our house on sand or on rock. We too can choose death or life.
When we listen to the Word of God with the ears of our hearts, we are building a house on a firm foundation. The cornerstone is justice.
As Christians, we all too often are polarized in a culture of militarized violence because that is what war does to people. We get our values from Faux News. We let the talking heads shape our values. We cheer conservative talking heads that encourage us to nuke Muslim cities without any thought that that is not the Word of God, not what Jesus wants.
Why do we find it easy to ask WWJD in matters of personal morality but abandon that criterion in issues of corporate, social morality? Jesus would not nuke a Muslim city, or any city for that matter. He clearly told us to put away our nukes (swords).
Let us build the City of God. Let us make the values of Jesus—Love one another as I have loved you—the charter of the new city in the Kin-dom. We will have peace only when we trust in the nonviolent Jesus. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.