Saturday, February 28, 2009
I watched a clip earlier this week that showed how radical Muslims, having spread their distorted picture of Islam in Europe, are planning now to convert America. It is an eye-opening movie that we cannot ignore. Here is the website where you can watch the clip sent to me by my friends Manhal and Robert: http://blip.tv/file/1382254/ I do believe that radical Islam is a danger to the peaceful coexistence of religions. No one tolerates nor should anyone tolerate violence and aggression whether it is caused by radical Muslims or any other ideology. The work of René Girard, retired Stanford professor of civilization, shows that violence is incompatible with the true Christian spirit. His work is cited on my blog http://www.todayquestions.blogspot.com in the lecture on love. In addition please consider the following points. They may be related to the subject: 1. Most Muslims are God-fearing people. I do not believe they will intentionally kill non-Muslims, unless brain-washed, because some of their Imams interpret their scripture literalistically. 2. I know many conservative Christian groups that promote anti-Islamic slogans, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox. Most of these groups hold to the interpretation of the Bible that non-Christians will not be saved since they do not explicitly believe in Christ. This is true also of the Coptic Orthodox Church although they never pronounce it as openly as others. In their dialogue with the Catholic Church, their synod declared a few years ago that they do not share the view of the Catholic Church that "pagans" may be saved. This is likely the case for other Orthodox Churches since both families of the Orthodox Churches (Old Oriental led by the Coptic Orthodox Church and Greek led by the Church of Constantinople) signed theological agreements since 1989. 3. However, the Catholic Church in the Second Vatican Council made it clear that people of other religions can be saved if they are ignorant of the Gospel. This also seems logical. Why should 4 billion people go to hell only because they were not born in Christian families? Karl Rahner carried this further in his formula 'Anonymous Christians' about every one of any religion who follows the dictates of his conscience. The primacy of conscience (informed conscience) is one of the most important elements in personal judgment. The Catholic Church has never condemned any person but condemns only his act if sinful. It is a Catholic doctrine that all humans are created in the image of God. Original Sin is not a radical perversion of the human person as the Reformation claimed in the 16th century, but only a wound in a good creature of the loving God and Saviour. Blessed Mother Teresa is known for her missionary work among Indians- It was a Hindu temple that she converted into a hospice for the poor where dying people not only received medical treatment but were also allowed to die with dignity, each according to his faith. Hindus received water from the Gange; Muslims were read the Qur'an and Catholics were given the last rites. Moreover, John Paul the Great kissed the Qur'an when he visited the Ommayad Mosque in Damascus. He also prayed with representatives of world religions in Assisi more than once for peace and tolerance. I do not think anyone of the millions who admired his courage would consider him less than a saint. The Jihadists are not mainstream Muslims in my opinion. It is probably true that they are attracting more followers everyday but I think the Christian answer is to educate them not fight them by force. On the other hand there is the experience of history. The USSR lost its empire when Gorbachev yielded to the West in 1985. The Catholic Church lost many of its followers in the aftermath of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In 1958, Statistics show, 80% of Catholics attended Mass every week in the West. Today less than 20-30% of Catholics attend Mass weekly or bi-weekly especially in Europe. The irony is that the more you give in to the other, the more you appear weaker. Your stronghold is gone. However, this, in Catholic thought, is not true. Evangelization does not mean coercion or forced conversion. In the past few months quite a great number of Traditional Anglicans have been requesting to rejoin the Catholic Church. Rome, while welcoming their coming back to the flock, is seriously studying their case especially in view of the drifting away of the Anglican Communion with their ordaining of homosexual bishops and women bishops. But these Traditional Anglicans are not converted by force. In the end, there is no fear for Christianity. Christianity, as I said in my lecture on love, is more than a mere religion. It is the global relationship of Man with God in which God is Emmanuel i.e. with us in the person and suffering of Christ. It will never be eaten away since its founder himself promised his Church that he will be with her till the end of ages.
Monday, February 23, 2009
(Mark 2:1-12) And when he returned to Caper'naum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Rise, take up your pallet and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic -- "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home."  And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" Yesterday, I heard the homily in the Mass at Holy Rosary by Rev. John Reddy. It was about the above story of the paralytic who, due to the great crowd, was taken to the roof of the house where Jesus was, and thrown in front of Jesus from the roof. Reddy noted that four people took the courage and carried him to the roof, just for the sick man to be seen by Jesus. The great example here is that many of us are carried to the presence of the Lord through others. There is the element of "the others", the community praying and working together for everyone in need. And who is not in need? Then there is Jesus' response. Note that although everyone expected a miracle, Christ did not perform immediately a miracle. In fact, he never performed a miracle to show people his "magic" power. His greatest miracle is love. Now, because he loved that paralytic he forgave him his sins! Of course, as a secondary gesture he healed the sick so that "you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins." Never considering himself he went around to heal but his priority was to bring to people God's love...his love. Still the response of the crowd reflected their amazement at what they saw with their senses "they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!" What mattered to them then is also what matters to me today. Healing! However, it seems that in Christ's eyes what matters is me and not only my physical health. Am I closer to him? Have I repented of my sins? And it is not only me: Remember, that the paralytic was carried by other people. We share in prayer and penance. It is the entire people of God that must repent.