2014年8月6日水曜日

Compassion is Here (Matt 14:13-21)


(This is the English translation of Rev Nobuo Yasui’s sermon which is to be preached at Hongo Church on August 3, 2014)

Compassion is Here (Matt 14:13-21)

1. 
 Today is Peace Day. Especially we remember the World War Ⅱ, and its tragedy, and decide not to repeat the war. It is regrettable to say that it is difficult for us to keep peace in spite of our determination. We continue to pray for God’s guidance to achieve peace. There is a book titled “The songs sung were not martial songs but heart’s songs.”(published by Shin Nihon Shuppansha) It was edited by “Shin Rōjin No Kai (New Senior People’s Association),” and supervised by Mr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a Christian doctor. It includes precious witnesses on the war experiences of 43 people including Mr. Hinohara. We can see, through this book, the tragedy of war vividly. It includes earnest messages from 43 people, and they all express the tragedy of war.

2. 
 I would like to introduce an article, included in the book, titled “From the bottom of Anger and Grief,” written by Ms. Natsuchi. She was born in 1922. 

Two cousins came back to Japan, and a party to acknowledge their efforts was held for them. There they began to tell all that they had done. They killed a badly injured soldier who begged for his life by throwing down a large stone on him. They confessed that some Japanese soldiers raped Chinese women who rebelled against them. And they said, “If you would not kill them, they would kill you. Killing first is a win.” War justifies people’s atrocities: “You would be killed if you would not kill.” Several tens of years have passed since the end of the World War Ⅱ. But it is difficult to say that humanity has changed. We always live with the risk of the repetition of war. So we have tried to keep the Constitution of Japan. But we now face the danger of the change of our peace policy.

3. 
 Ms. Natsuchi writes that she remembers well the morning when a soldier in her community was leaving for the front.

“The soldier’s wife put on her long-sleeved kimono, when black or brown color was the accepted practice, and was going to send her husband off. People around her were stunned. Some of them were critical toward her. She cried harshly, yelled in tears, covering her face with her long-sleeved beautiful, too beautiful, kimono. But her husband brushed aside her hands and his children, and left them. That wife’s figure and her cry stand for the cry of all the people left in the homeland. I think that her figure and cry represent the true image of all the people in the homeland left after the war.”

We had much sorrow behind the scenes, when people sent soldiers off to the front with cheers of “banzai” for the cause of our country and the Emperor. We also had difficulty mentioning our opinions freely. War is likely to unify people’s minds, create an atmosphere of excluding outsiders, and control the inner thoughts of many people.

We are obliged to think that the law of national secrecy is trying to make a situation in which freedom of expression is controlled. It tries to punish people who reveal secret things, though why they are secret is not clearly explained.

4. 
 Ms. Natsuchi clearly says that war should never be carried out. She points out that there are many things to deal with.

“Those who shed blood, lose homes, and whose one-and-only life is filled with grief and resentment are likely to be ordinary good people, including weak people, women, and children. We must stop any war among human beings anywhere in the world, unconditinonally.”

“We have many enemies to fight against. They are global warming, desertification, earthquakes, storms, flood damage, and numerous diseases.” But we are so powerless that we are unable to stop wars among human beings. And we are also powerless concerning many unsolved matters. We have no measurement except economic merits in terms of our judgment. When we deal with matters concerning energy, military force, education, work, welfare, and life itself, we use the scale of economic merits.

5. 
 This situation resembles the background of Isaiah chapter 55. Israel people in captivity made much effort to protect their own positions, and used their own money to make a favorable situation in order to stay in Babylon. They forgot to rely on God who could satisfy their needs. They were earnest to realize their needs at hand. But God told the people, through Isaiah’s mouth, that human achievements or their investment without trust in God’s help would never make them live. Isaiah tells that God supports the people at the bottom, and He has compassion on them. There is no need of money or conditions as far as the relationship between God and human beings is concerned. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)

6. 
 God’s look toward human beings is “Compassion.” In Psalms, too, there is a song describing it. “The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. “ (Psalm 145: 8-9) God created human beings. It is the reason why God has compassion on people. So God is unable to leave the human beings, his creation, as they are, when they are weak, tired out, hopeless, and suffer from illness.

7.
 Many people tried to follow Jesus, when he withdrew by boat to a solitary place in Galilee. They were all sorrowful and thirsty in their hearts, had difficulty in living and illness. They worried about their lives in the future. When Jesus saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them. The Biblical word “compassion” relates to bowel. It means that Jesus accepted people’s darkness in the core of his body, and he was filled with care for them. His compassion is also directed to us, as we are unable to realize peace in spite of much expectation. Naturally his compassion may be directed to people now suffering in war, people who are frightened of being killed, and people who are unable to receive medical treatment because of war. His compassion may be directed to people who are put in the situation of killing others, some ruling people who are engaged in power struggles in the world, and ruling leaders who are unable to solve world problems. His compassion is also directed to people who are making efforts to strengthen military bases and armaments and people who are tossed about by those efforts. His compassion is directed to people who are unable to deal with the problems at all.

We are likely to worry whether God has compassion for us, but He might do nothing concretely.

8. 
 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.” (Matt 14:17) This is our reality. We can do nothing except defeated by our powerlessness and sorrow, though we have a desire for peace. Jesus’ disciples’ decision to send the crowds away might have been persuasive.

But Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.” (Matt 14:18) He tells his disciples to bring forward what they believe insufficient. “Here” means where Jesus is or Jesus himself. Jesus intends to say that when they bring up “here” what they believe insufficient, it is shared by all. “Here” is the place where many people are fed, filled with joy, and given energy to live.

Jesus shows us that compassion is “here,” namely Jesus himself. Those who worry about their smallness, or powerlessness, are about to lose confidence and fall into endless suffering. But Jesus tells us that such small beings are accepted, and to share with one another is to know God’s compassion which leads us to peace.

(Translated by Toshiyuki Masujima)