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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why Weep?

On Saturday September 13, Pope Francis said Mass in the largest cemetery in Italy to commemorate the centenary of World War I. With a voice expressing anxiety and fear, he brought the attention of thousands of listeners to the planned aggression and wars today citing wars in Syria, Iraq, and the armed conflict in Gaza, Ukraine,and parts of Africa. "War is madness. War ruins everything even the bonds between brothers...War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction...It seeks to grow by destroying - Even today after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a Third War, one fought piecemeal with crimes, massacres, destruction. Humanity needs to weep and the time to weep is now."
We may wish to listen to his voice here:  

If we listen to him here:  we will find what he thinks causes war: "Greed, intolerance, the lust for power" said Francis. These motives "are too often justified by an ideology, and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain 'Why should I care?'"

Francis' prophecy for the possibility of a global war may be discredited as pessimistic. However, more pastors are also pessimistic about the decline in observing moral values in the Western Christian civilization. But this is hardly the problem of the rich West. Obsession with material possessions increases selfishness which is found in all countries.The big picture reflects fear of threats to survival whether it is because of a distorted radical Islamism, an increasing tension between Russia and NATO, or the spread of Ebola that could kill more people. To address such ugly situation, we may as well return to the gospel. In Matthew Chapter 7, Jesus tells his listeners to start correcting themselves "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matt 7: 3-5). If our spiritual leaders (including patrirachs, cardinals, and bishops) follow Pope Francis in his simple way of living and dressing, Christians will probably imitate their leaders. We need to individually and socially (in community) wake up and return to our loving God. We need to discern the will of God. "Humanity needs to weep and the time to weep is now." Tears of sorrow can be a temporary emotional reaction to fear. Or they can be the beginning of real repentance in seeking God who loves all. Let's recall that there are more Christian missionaries in the world than ever. More children are born everyday that bring joy - more joy than hatred.

In his 2012 book "The Better Angels of Our Nature:Why Violence Has Declined", Steven Pinker at Harvard University provides statistical evidence that there were less victims killed in the two World Wars of the 20th century than there were in the 19th century.

And St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), articulates the vision that in spite of evil God brings good out of everything  (exercised in the discernment of spirits or daily examen). St. Thomas More followed the primacy of conscience in making decisions (exercised in the discernment of spirits  and elevated by the Christian moral teachings).  St. Francis of Assisi too spoke to the beauty of God implanted in creation: Sister Sun and Brother Moon and wrote the hymn of love Make me a channel of your peace.

If we and our pastors follow Jesus as those saints did, we will be contagious in our patience and love to others and this will render in us the peace of Christ. As long as we live, we must hope for a better life here and in heaven. And so we can sing with St. Paul and the early Church the hymn about Jesus Christ "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2, 6-11).

Today's Quote

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


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