Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Can You Abolish Revenge?

Can you or I abolish hatred and revenge?
In the wake of Pope Benedict's call on Christians, Muslims, and Jews to reconcile and live in peace in the Middle East, I thought of this objective. As I thought more, I found it to be a long-term hope that could not be achieved over night. As a Christian, I know that Christ asked his followers "Love your enemies" yet I find it hard to love my neighbour whether Christian or Non-Christian. Since I was not sure whether that applied to me alone or to my friends too, we discussed the topic of reconciliation last night in Church. I asked "What would you do if your boss fired you for unfair reasons? Would you hate him?" One person replied "I would leave and would not want to see him again." Not seeing him again does not, however, eliminate the feeling of being betrayed. If I have been betrayed, I would be telling my family and my close friends about how badly the aggressor hurt me. In spite of the fact that most people do good things more than bad things, we often remember the bad things that they caused us and hardly remember the good things. Memories of evil are harder to erase than memories of good things. The stories also get retold from generation to generation. This is true because every person is naturally insecure from the time he was a little baby. The only thing that kept him from crying was his mother's love. But even that love is bound to disappear when he becomes independent and free. One idea is for you and me to remember the good things rather than the bad things that your adversary did to you or me. If we commit these good deeds coming from co-workers to memory then it is likely that we would remember them rather than the things that hurt. I, for example, recall the incidents of work that resulted in trust between my boss and me. This memory brings me a temporary feeling of satisfaction. But is this enough? Every human life is a struggle to attain full self-satisfaction. It is a struggle because we are always afraid of suffering and the unknown and so have hidden/unconscious anxiety about our survival and eternal security.
The reason must be known if we wish to find the solution. We suffer from insecurity and anxiety which, with the Devil's provocation, caused our first parents, and us today too, to fall into sin and mistrust of God. In his book "Banished from Eden - Original Sin and Evolutionary Theory in the Drama of Salvation" Raymund Schwager, S.J. the late Professor of Theology at the University of Innsbruck in Austria explores how the human race became estranged from God. Using evidence from recent findings and theories in evolution, compression of time, and genetic technology as well as insights from Girard's Mimetic Theory, the Jesuit professor traces back the origins of perverted life in civilizations. He finds ample support in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot" (Rom 8:7); "For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the sons of God; for creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now" (Rom 8: 19-22).  But, in St Paul, while sin multiplied so did God's grace spread more.
The Church teaches that God loves everyone, and he does not retaliate like us. The example par excellence is that of Jesus Christ himself who loved the Samaritan and Canaanite strangers as he loved his disciples and the Jewish people. He forgave his enemies who crucified him and appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection to reassure them of his love and justify their preaching of him as Lord and God to the known world. While the world has been and is still influenced by evil, God has been working to redeem it in Christ. Over nearly two thousand years millions of missionaries were sent out to the world, thousands of hospitals were built by Christians, and thousands of schools and universities were erected to teach and learn in every discipline; for this is the work of the Spirit of Christ.
If I submit to God's love as children submit in trust to those who care for them, then slowly but surely the door opens; for Christ knocks on the door but I need to open it for him to come in. The drama of our insecurity must be turned into the joy that the faithful Christians found in their dependence on Christ and the example of the saints.
We live in a world of doubt. Can we trust in God? There is no easy way except by becoming children again in dependence on God whom we probably are taught that he loves all and provides for all. Great saints such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Thérèse of Lisieux had a mystical experience of conversion, yet they themselves went through the long dark night of the soul and -like children- trusted in God. Blessed Mother Teresa had a long period of doubt that she did not feel God's love for her, yet she persisted in prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and an extraordinary service to the dying persons in the streets of Calcutta regardless of their religion.
Can we pray? Can we go to the Sacrament of Confession? Can we repent? Only then can we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of Thanksgiving (The Eucharist). Then out of enduring perseverance and with God's grace we can love ourselves, our neighbour, and eventually our enemies. The epitome of life is to live in union with God. It is urgent since we do not have much time to live in this life. I must start today."Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." (Heb 4:7)!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Devil within me

The destructive force in the past week in the Islamic world is an act of revenge against America symbolizing the powerful “infidel” forces and specifically against those so-called Christians who dared to mock the founder of Islam in a video published to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks. Christian leaders immediately distanced themselves from such horrible movie that discriminates against the beliefs of Muslims and Muslim leaders condemned acts of violence of Muslim followers.

Vengeance does not need to be public. It is an act of the self and can remain hidden in thoughts or in the unconscious for months and years. I can pray for you but at the same time harbour jealousy in my soul. I can collaborate with you but within me I do not wish you to succeed in your work. I can pretend to be your friend while I secretly feel safer with your demise! Or I can say to myself I will never hurt you, yet I destroy your image in my mind!

Even in marital sexual relations, I can pretend to love my spouse while all what I want is to satisfy myself and my ego thus turning the act of love into an act of fornication inside marriage.

A few days ago I had a little heated conversation with two friends who, like me, claim to be serving the Church. The conversation ended with my feeling of being let down by sincere friends and my pride being compromised by both of them that, in reaction, I threatened them that they cannot speak on my behalf and furthermore they must watch what they are doing as I can turn things against them using my “power” in the Church.

This is the secret of revenge that Christ and his saints overcame by love. I say this but do I really live this love in my thoughts and acts?  

The Devil is within. How do I expel him if I am not Christ?

Revenge does not have to be violent. It is sufficient to be in the heart to drive me to hell, for from within the heart come good thoughts and bad thoughts. Violence is only an extended form of selfishness in which the Devil  appeared to Christ in his passion and a few saints trying to scare them in their spiritual fights.

The Devil is within. How do I expel him if I am not Christ?

Vengeance is the same game that the powers of the world play in war and politics in any context. It wants only the expansion or survival of the self.

And when Pope Benedict XVI went to Lebanon Friday, many leaders were cheering him and hearing his words for reconciliation between inhabitants of the Middle East. But was anyone listening? Christ too was cheered by the crowds less than a week before his crucifixion. Three hundred and fifty attended Benedict's farewell Mass but who really was touched by his words and transformed from within?

The Devil is within. How do I expel him if I am not Christ?
Pray for me and for yourselves. Each one needs to repent. This is why the sacrament of confession is only the beginning and prayer is a first step.

If God were not all loving and patient, who would have been saved? 

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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