The Knee Brace, The Imam and the Great Commandment

The Knee Brace, The Imam and the Great Commandment November 19, 2016


Take a look at this video:

I know, I know. It’s a commercial. It’s meant to make you feel sentimental so you’ll buy stuff. And, by gosh, it worked. I feel sentimental and ready to purchase a knee brace. Two old friends loving one another and giving each other gifts they truly need to help them worship God in the way they believe right, using Amazon Prime. Sweet. It’s like O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” only with computers, and way fewer consequences. So, not like “The Gift of the Magi” at all, but sweet. Kitschy sweet and advocating love of neighbor along with the usual consumerism.

So, anyway. I was a fly on the wall, just now, for a conversation between several people, one of whom did not think this commercial was sweet.

Specifically, one person said they wondered who funded and produced it, which is silly: the first rule of commercials, is that the ones whose product logo is being glorified did the funding and producing, and here the product logo is Amazon Prime. Everyone knows that.

But this person was not sure. They thought there must be some ulterior motive and that we ought not to find it sweet. They said it was wishful thinking, naive and not real. And again, everyone knows that– commercials are never real,  Amazon Prime packages take two days to ship rather than one and they never come before Mass, most priests don’t wear that kind of cassock anymore, knee braces probably don’t help you genuflect or prostrate yourself exactly that smoothly.

Naturally, that wasn’t what that person talking about.

They were talking about the loving, pleasant relationship between the imam and the priest.

They thought it was improper to show such a relationship in any kind of video.

They asked how we would react to a sweet Amazon Prime commercial involving “God and the Devil sending each other packages.”

In the stunned silence that followed, another person gave an answer which I am quoting word for word with her permission, because I can’t say it any better than she did:

That’s not just imperfect, it’s offensive.

Like, blazingly offensive. 

Here’s the deal: spiritual warfare is between spiritual powers. ALL human beings, even those who are far from the faith, are the battleground–NOT THE ENEMY.

If you EVER, ever start thinking of another human being as the enemy, you’re heading right into the Enemy’s arms–because you are also a battleground, and he really loves to make us push other human beings away from God’s love.

…[the commercial]’s not saying “peace in our time.” It’s saying, peace with our neighbors. And there is nothing naive about that.

You certainly don’t win any spiritual battles–within yourself or within others–when you treat other people as unfriendable “others.”

That’s it in a nutshell, really.

The enemy of the Christian is never a human being.

Oh, humans will do horrible things to you– some humans who are Muslim do horrible things, some humans who are pagan do horrible things, some humans who are atheists do horrible things, and I can name for you an extensive list of Christians who do horrible things. We can say “those aren’t real Christians,” but I’m talking baptized Christians who will bear that seal for eternity. Priest even. All kinds of people. All kinds of people will do horrible things to you. And Christ commands you to love, forgive and pray for them, to be their friends if they allow it, to meet their physical needs if you can, and to treat them with justice and mercy as you’d wish yourself to be treated. Even if they kill you.

How much more if they’re just people with a different worldview than yours, who worship God differently– in some ways which we agree with and in some ways we disagree with?

Because no human is ever our true enemy.

Humans are icons, tabernacles, our visitation of Christ in day-to-day life; and what we do to them, we do to Christ. We Christians are warriors, but our battle is with principalities and powers. If we ever start looking upon a human beings as the true enemy, our battle in that case has been lost and the evil powers have won. We may, sometimes, even have to do physical battle with humans who mean us harm, to protect ourselves and those we’re responsible for. But we mustn’t ever lose the hope and the desire that it can be otherwise– that we could lay down our arms, forgive one another, have a cup of tea and send a gift in a brown paper package, before going to worship God.

All of this would apply even if every one of the 1.6 billion men, women and children in the world who are Muslim were also terrorists. We still would be required by faith to greet them as friends and equals however we could. If the priest in the commercial had mailed the imam a knee brace and the imam had mailed him a bomb, the priest would still be doing only what he should have done, according to the Gospel.

How much more, when the fact is that they’re not terrorists? That Muslims comprise the vast and overwhelming majority of the victims of Daesh, well over 80%; and the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims living in America are against terrorism and only want to live in peace?

There’s no excuse. Every Christian in this country ought to be offering our Muslim brothers and sisters tea and care packages. And if it does come to be that Muslims are legally persecuted in this country, which I hope it doesn’t, we Christians ought to be on the front line to commit civil disobedience to protect them.

This is only a kitschy, sweet commercial, but it does inadvertently teach us Law and the Prophets: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

(image via Pixabay)



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