Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Breaking the Interior Chains

I had planned to write about sin as the things that chain us to the past.  However, with the evens at the mosque in Quebec City yesterday I am moved to reflect on that event.  As I write this it occurs to me that both topics are connected.  I do not know at this point who the perpetrators of this terrible dead are or anything about their background.  However, I know that they are in chains to their beliefs and attitudes.  They are in chains as certainly as someone who is in outer slavery.

When someone is enslaved on the inside they are much more difficult to set free.  They chains are invisible.  Only their actions and words give the evidence of the interior condition.  How do we engage these people and each of us in ways that will free them and us from our inner chains?   I certainly do not have any answers that will provide a silver bullet to break those chains.  I almost wrote to kill those beliefs but I do know that the language of killing is not the answer. 

If we respond in hate and look to strike out in vengeance we will be allowing the perpetrators to win.   If we build walls and battlements to hide behind to exclude those who we see as “the Other” we will also allow them to win.  As long as we see” the Other” as those who are out there they will win.  Rather than the aspects of ourselves which we do not want to recognize and acknowledge we will see them in “the Other” out there and react in ways that will only build a higher barrier to hide behind. 
I do not for one minute to say we should welcome those who see us in the same way i.e. as “the Other” to be eliminated.  I am not so naive or blind to the real threats that exist in our times as they have always existed.   I do believe that love is stronger than hate even though it often seems that it is not.  Hate seems to win more oftenor perhaps it just has a better press secretary. 

There does seem to be many cracks in our world right now.  To draw again on Leonard Cohen, that is how the light gets in.  I will close with a prayer I discovered on the internet when I looked for resources for a prayer service tomorrow.  It is from jesuitresouces.org :
We pray,
O God,
for all Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews
whose hearts are consumed
by a zeal that has hardened them;
whose vision is partial,
whose mind is narrowed,
whose perceptions are simplified,
whose soul is poisoned.
And yet,
O God,
we read of Jesus that
"zeal for your house consumed him".
His life teaches us that
without the zeal of a burning love for you
that will endure through
the night-time of our enmities
we shall not see your kingdom come.
So we ask,
O God,
that you give us
a zeal that insists on acceptance
a commitment that endures in non-violence
and a patience that works for your coming;
and teach us to hate
only our tribalism and prejudice
which separate us
from those different to us.

We ask it in the name of the Prince of Peace,
Jesus Christ
Our Lord,

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