Just a reminder to all who want to follow Christ, who want to be disciples. The witness of the fifty including children, killed in Nigeria on Pentecost Sunday could not be more clear. They are martyrs of the faith, who wear crowns in Heaven and know the glory and peace and joy that comes from being fully in the presence of the Holy Trinity. We get to slog it out here in the slow drip of martyrdom for the faith born through the hard slog of faithfulness over time, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, during seasons of famine and feast, richer or poorer, until death do we reunite.
This is what victory looks like. God over death and sin, outstretched, pouring out everything to win us back from the alternative.
For some reason, American Catholicism has morphed in many arenas into “Winning,” where success is not the hungry being fed, sick tended, mourners comforted, dead buried, imprisoned visited, naked clothed, thirsty given to drink, but elected officials who check off the right box. It’s manifested in some of the warping that has taken place in EWTN and in the equating of being Catholic with voting exclusively with one political party. (See the Slate Article). It can perhaps be best illustrated by this statement by Dr. Jordan Peterson at 10:10 AM on June 4th.
This is not Christian, it is not Catholic, it is rather like Peter the apostle when Judas and the crowd came to take Jesus away to be arrested, tried and crucified. He cut off the ear of a slave in defense. Striking someone who was not arresting Jesus, but a servant of those who arrested Jesus seems like a silly thing to do if you were planning on fighting the crowd –but it looks good. However it isn’t. It wasn’t. Jesus told Peter, “Put away your sword,” and healed the slave’s ear.
The reality we’re called to involves something much braver, much harder. Our faith requires we beg (and hope) for the grace to follow our Lord. Turn the other cheek, offer out your hands and feet to be nailed, your head to be crowned with thorns, and your side pierced. Identify with the wounded. Do not glorify holding the hammer and the nails.
We all require God’s abundant and constant grace in our lives, more than oxygen. We are to respond to that grace, which means we are to prepare, to be capable of great charity even to the one capable of great cruelty. Please do not understand this to mean, we must seek to be victims or to be abused, only that we must not seek to be the creator of victims or the abused .We must serve those injured on the side of the road whenever we find them on the side of the road.
Who is our neighbor? The one we encounter.
How do we do the Father’s will? By treating the ones we encounter, wherever we encounter them, with kindness…with mercy, with charity as undeserved as what we receive from the Father every day we breathe in and out.
So I’m hoping Dr. Peterson reconsiders his words. I do not know him personally or online.
However, I believe that people often say things and then discover they should rethink –and that twitter as a medium preserves in internet amber, all we think whether profane or profound. It lends itself to pithy and popular, which is almost always less than what the Gospel calls us to be.
Anyone, anyone, everyone can be cruel. To be kind when the temptation is to either be cruel or prepare to be cruel is to respond to God’s love, God’s Grace. To fantasize about being somehow justified in being violent is to glorify the dark joy, anticipating the opportunity to be vicious. It is a lust in the heart for wrath and the ruin of another, for power and revenge and “winning” and “owning” whoever it is that one feels one must triumph over. We are not called to lord over each other, but to wash feet. We should pray we have the grace to get down on our knees and start scrubbing.
We are not called to win. We are called to witness. We are not called to be prepared to be cruel. We are challenged and called to be kind.