Friday, May 22, 2015

PENTECOST & MEMORIAL DAY - Renew the Face of the Earth

There is growing expectation for Pope Francis' soon to be released encyclical on the environment. Some may question why the Pope would devote a teaching letter to this issue.  Most certainly we know that we are called to be good stewards of the earth.  A pope writing on such an issue is not simply concerned with the physical preservation of the planet.  The state of the physical environment is also a symbolic expression of the state of the world and its people.

The world can be painful place but it was not created to be so.  The biblical image of the Garden of Eden is a metaphor of God's design.  Our broken humanity alone is responsible for the pain. A selfish disregard of the worlds physical resources is indicative of the selfish disregard for other lives. Unfortunately one of our reactions to the pains and sorrows of life is the perpetuation of that pain, through our selective outrage to injustice. Protests which bring injustice to light are important. Fighting within ourselves, however, or the demonizing of a class of people or law enforcement only increases the pain.  And media fueled outrage for a select agenda only enhances the divide.  

If our outrage was genuine would there not be riots over the shooting death of a 14 year old boy? 

If we truly cared about injustice would not the shooting death of a police officer and mother of a new born child cause an outburst of indignation.   

Or if all lives matter shouldn't we be outraged that nearly 1 in 3 minority children are aborted every year?

As we celebrate Pentecost this weekend we also celebrate Memorial Day and remember those whose lives were lost in service to the protection of life.  We do not honor those who died for peace with the perpetuation of violence.  We do not respond to injustice with further violations of justice. And we do not reserve our outrage to those protests which are politically correct or elevated by the media. We can not seek the physical healing of the earth without understanding that the healing of humanity is constitutive to that effort.
May this classic prayer to the Holy Spirit be our guide for what we seek, renewal, a fire of love and wisdom

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. 
And You shall renew the face of the earth. 
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, 
Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

A mother's love is of God...and we need more of it.

At mass this weekend, the scripture readings speak of God’s love and the unconditional nature of it.   They are fitting words as we celebrate our mothers and give thanks for the ministry of motherhood.  In many ways, a mother’s love is the best example of what God’s love “looks like.”  Its not always pretty and to the outside observer, it may not make sense.  This week I found a reflection that I found both unimaginatively compassionate and at the same time hard to accept.  I want to share it with you because it is a genuine example of the conflicted love we try to live.  They are the words of a teacher named Becki Norris, who testified during the penalty phase of the man convicted of the Boston Marathon bombings. In her explanation for testifying she said in part:
Over the past two years, I have had to accept that a kind and gentle temperament is not a lifetime guarantee, and a smart and caring child can go far, far down an evil path...I testified to help the jury see why he might be spared the death penalty. I also hoped to show him, in spite of what he has done, that someone cares about him as a person....
I urge you to read the whole reflection in its entirety, (Why I Testified On Behalf Of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) because I know that in reading it I was challenged to ask, "Is this what Christians are supposed to do?  Is this what the mandate to love is all about?"  Personally I don’t know.  

I share her thoughts, not to validate them or to say that you too should feel this way.  Victims of violence, especially the victims of this act, can not and are not called to feel this way - but is not someone?  I was particularly struck by the line, “I hoped to show him, despite what he has done, that someone cares about him, as a person.”  Love sees beyond the act and recognizes the person.

We have all heard the phrase which labels someone as one whom, “only a mother can love,” and we all have encountered people in life, that only God can love.  As disciples we have to challenge ourselves, once in a while, to be the person through which God loves the “unlovable.”  It is most certainly not easy to love.  Mrs. Norris' life would be less challenging if she never loved this young man, if she was ignorant of his unique humanity that engaged her.  But she dared to love this student, and now she bears the pain of that love. Would she have preferred not to have ever known and loved him?  Would a mother prefer to have never loved her child?  Would God?

Love is of God, it is not an act of human manifestation.  In a world that continues to be torn apart by violence - we seek a divine intervention.  We seek love and God seeks to love -- through us.  The world can not heal without love.  We desperately pray for peace, for freedom from terror and terrorist.  We pray that there be less people in the world like this man.  But we also must pray for more people like this teacher and mother.  On this Mother’s day, may the divine ministry of motherhood provide us an example and a challenge to love one another as we have been loved.