Tuesday, July 28, 2015

And Jesus Wept.

"Dominus Flevit" "The Lord Wept--outside of Jerusalem
   I am reading  Jesus, a wonderful book by James Martin, SJ. It presents a wonderful and prayerful reflection on Jesus based on the author's experience of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  I am reading it slowly, not because it is difficult to understand, but because so many of his reflections lead me into prayer and meditation.  When I finish reading I may review it on this blog, for now I am picking up on one part of it that struck me today.

   Fr. Martin comments at length on Luke 19:41--"And Jesus Wept."  He goes into what is behind this and all of the anguish Jesus felt on the night before His death.  That lead me to ask "Over what would Jesus weep today?"  It would be easy to answer that question by listing any number of the evils of the day--terrorism, human trafficking, racial violence are among other things that come to my mind.  I'm sure that the list is longer than that.  I would suggest, however, that we go deeper than that to find the answer.

    I think that more than anything else Jesus weeps at the hatred that is in the world, not only the hatred that fuels terror groups like Isis, but the hatred that I see everyday on Facebook and Twitter directed at other races and nationalities, at politicians, at other nations and at other religions. I am taken aback by anger and outrage expressed so vehemently even when I agree with the opinion of the one expressing it.  It is the anger expressed in things like road rage and the random shootings that so often take place. 

   No doubt much of this anger has its roots in hurts that the angry person has experienced in the past.  It comes out indirectly at anyone and anything that gets in their way. We need to work on healing the anger within us.  While I am an advocate of some type of tighter gun control (no, not repealing the 2nd amendment), the real issue is healing the rage that leads to the crazy level of gun violence that we have seen recently.
   So, what is the answer to this problem? Interestingly the members of the African-American church in South Carolina where nine of their members were killed forgave the shooter, a young disturbed racist fanatic. In other places further violence erupted after the initial shooting.

   Maybe Jesus's message of forgiveness, which seems so idealistic is not so impractical after all.  Forgiveness is not softness. It is not about excusing bad behavior and injustice. Those folks in Charleston had a great deal of courage.  They were saying that something terrible happened, but they are not going to give it any more power by spreading the violence. Forgiveness is a form of healthy selfishness.  It says that if I continue the cycle of anger, rage and violence I will be hurting
myself, and probably a lot of other people as well.

   In John's Gospel Jesus command to "Love one another as I have loved you.(See John 15:9ff.) is given on the night before he died, knowing that He was to die, and after the betrayal of Judas.  There is a lesson to be learned in this.