Friday, July 30, 2010



How do you stay positive, preach hope and remain loving and big hearted in the face of position, misunderstanding, hostility and hatred? Jesus lived this and perhaps the greatest personal and moral challenge to us who try to follow him. How do you remain loving in the face of hatred? How do you remain empathic in the face of misunderstanding? How do you continue to be warm and gracious in the face of hostility? How do you love your enemies when they want to kill you?

Virtually every instinct inside us works against us here. Our natural instincts are mostly self protective, paranoid even, antithetic to self-abnegation and forgiveness. Our innate sense of justice demands an eye for an eye, a giving back in kind, hatred for hatred, distrust, murder for murder. And this isn’t just time for the big things, or struggle to remain loving even in the face of irritation.

But how do we handle opposition, misunderstanding, hostility and hatred?

Sometimes our response is paralysis. We get so intimidated by opposition, misunderstanding and hatred that we retreat and go underground. We retain our ideals but no longer practice them in the presence of those who oppose us. We continue to speak love and understanding, but not to our enemies (whom we don’t exactly hate, but whom we now stay away from).

Sometimes our response is the exact opposite; namely, in the face of opposition we develop a skin that so thick that we don’t need to care about what others think of us: let them think whatever they want! They can like it or lump it! The problem with the thick skin is that our capacity to saying right words and doing the right actions is partially based upon a certain blindness and insensitivity. In our mind, we don’t have a problem. Others do.

The insensitivity sometimes takes a more subtle from, condescension. When we believe that we are big-hearted enough to love those who oppose and hate us, even s our empathy and love are predicated in a certain elitism, namely, on the feeling that we are so morally and religiously superior to those who hate us that we can love them in their ignorance: poor, ignorant people! If they know better! This is not love but a superiority-complex masquerading as empathy and concern. That is not how Jesus treated those who hated him.

How did he treat them? In the face of hatred and being put to death by his enemies, Jesus was not intimidated, nor did he become thick-skinned or condescending. What did he do? He rooted himself more deeply in his own deepest identity and inside of that, he found the power to continue to be warmed hearted, loving and forgiving in the face of hatred and murder. How?

As Jesus was being persecuted, he prayed; “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” Karl Rahner, commenting on this, a stutely points out that, in fact, his executioners did not know what they were doing! They knew they were acting in ignorance.

Their ignorance as Karl Rahner points out lay at a deeper level: They were ignorant of how much they were loved, whereas Jesus was not. That inner state of Jesus at the last supper, they say: Jesus knowing that he had come from God and that he was going back to God and therefore all things were possible for him, got up from the table and took of his outer robe.

Jesus was capable of continuing to love and forgive in the face of hatred and murder because at the very heart of his self-awareness, lay an awareness of who was God’s son, and how much he was loved. He wasn’t thick-skinned or elist, just in touch with who he was and how he was loved.

From that source he drew his energy and his power to forgive. We too have access to that same powerful spring of energy. Like Jesus, we too are God’s children and are loved that deeply. Like Jesus, we too can be that forgiving.

Very few things are needed today, in both in the society and church, than this capacity for understanding and forgiveness, especially in our ultimate social, political, ecclesial, moral, religious and human challenge. Sometimes Church people try to single out the one particular moral issue as the litmus test to whether or not someone is a true follower of Jesus. If there is to be litmus test, let it be this one: can you continue to love those who misunderstand you, oppose you, hostile to you, who hate you, and who threaten you without being paralyzed, calloused or condescending.

Monday, July 26, 2010


First Reading (Qo 1:2; 2:21-23)
Second reading (Col 3:1-5, 9-11)
Gospel Luke (12:13-21)

“If you cannot have everything, make the best of everything you have” (Anon)
In spite of occasional quarrels, members of the same family normally live in harmony and peace. Till when? Until the day they are called to share out the inheritance. In front of money and goods even the best people lose their heads and become deaf and blind: they only see their personal interest, do not listen to any reason but the reasons of greediness and are ready to trample even the most sacred of feelings. With the help of some wise friends the parties may find a reasonable solution, but at times hatred drags on for years and the once peaceful and friendly brothers and sisters may end up not speaking to each other anymore.
Jesus was one day invited to act as mediator to solve a family contest (V.13). Well such cases we never fail to put a good word, but the master’s reply is instead very surprising: “my friend, who appointed me your judge or arbitrator of your claims?”(V.14).
Why doesn’t Jesus intervene in this family issue? Does he feel the problem as a sign of imposing the tyranny and imposing of the stronger parties? But this is not true because it would be contrary to the gospel message. But let us understand this.
There has been a sign where one is clearly committing an injustice while the other party is victim to it. But the question is what must be done? Avoid the discussion? Find excuse to pull out? Refer the whole problem to the current legislation? Everybody knows what has been laid down in Deut 21:15-15 and Num 27:1-11; what is called on is simply to listen to the parties, using a bit of common sense and applying the norms to the concrete case. This is how we probably ought to go about the serious drawbacks, it does not remove the root of the problem, and it does not wipe out the causes that produce discord, hatred and injustice.
Jesus decides to go straight to the root of the problem, rather than trying to solve a single case. “Watch and be on your guard”, he says, “against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when one has more than needs” (V.15).
Here is then the cause of evil: greed for money. These dissensions, Jesus says, come always when the goods of this world are not used for humanity, but worshipped like gods, when their accumulation fills all thoughts and energies.
It should not mean that Jesus despite material goods, but is showing his detachment from this world and the superiority of his plans and proposals. He is very much interested in a different inheritance, but the kingdom of God that will be inherited by the poor (Mt 5:3), and by those who will spend their lives to serve the brothers and sisters. (Mt 25:34).
All causes of war, discords, problems of inheritance will disappear only when all energies of mankind will go to increase not “mine” or the “yours” but “ours”. As the saying goes “Africa is not poor but poorly managed” we have all African leaders meeting in Kampala this week but whom can we call a true African leaders except all grabbers and greedy leader, and war mongers. It may sound harsh but it calls for styling up. Take care of your country and God will take care of you. This is what we need African leaders to know. If you are corrupt stop being corrupt. Our man to be our man even when he is naked, we still call him our man. Someone should tell him or her that please you are naked.

“Spend less than you earn and you’ll never be in debt” (Yiddish proverb)

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