Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Be Part of the Mercy

Nothing makes the idea of praying for your enemy seem more absurd than recognizing, you have an enemy.   Watching the attacks unfold in Paris, it's hard not to want to find the people responsible, and give them what they've given.  

But if we want a world that is not burning with rage, we will have to be better than that. I read Cardinal Parolin's talk about going on the Spiritual Offense with Mercy.  I thought, that is the best way to battle the incivility of the age.   This doesn't mean being syrupy or saccharine or a doormat.  Mercy is at its core, a radical muscular decision to turn the other cheek. It is Christ on the Cross saying, "Father, forgive them."

So I hope no government will change their political policy toward the oppressed and afflicted because some people who share a religion in name, but not in practice, tried to make the world burn.

 If you want to know how to engage in spiritual battle against the type of thinking that imagines and enacts such evil acts as took place last week in France and Beruit on the 12th, and in other places, I recommend Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble's article on the subject.

Knowing a few people in Paris, I sent an email when the attack first happened.  My contact wrote back how grateful she was for the show of support from around the world for the people of Paris, and how it heartened her on a dark day when it seemed, humanity favored letting the world burn.  Little gestures matter.  It is an incarnational reality of being human.  We understand when someone loves us by their words and their actions.  It means something to my son to see his siblings cheering as he runs.  They can't make him run one second faster. They can do nothing to affect the outcome of his efforts, except to encourage.   It still matters.

So pray, fast, give alms, welcome a refugee if you have the courage and the means..  When a great evil is inflicted on the world, the world cries out, "It shouldn't be this way." and the world is correct, because it was created to be something far more beautiful.   Lastly, if you're still feeling protective, still feeling nervous and concerned, "We don't help refugees because they are Christian. We help them because we are Christian. Are there microscopically small risks if we do? Yes. But there are astronomicaly graver and more certain consequences if we refuse: "Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me..."    

 To be charitable involves risk. It must. It's not misleading to say, we are called to be the good Samaritan. What it is, is difficult, which is why many of us, move to the other side of the road, or pretend we don't see the man left by thieves. It's not a lecture to recall Christ's words to us, when we ask the question, "Who is my neighbor?" in an attempt to justify ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit calling us to action, and our fallen will, wrestling with whether it will hear and answer, or ignore and walk by.

The world will be on fire one way or another, on fire with hate or love.  Be part of that beauty, and the world will shine with mercy.

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