Tuesday, July 05, 2005

can't we all just get along? who is my neighbor?

I want to start this entry with a comment Joanne left to my last entry. Finding it this morning was an affirmation of some thoughts I had been having at prayer.

Joanne wrote:
I don't know why you are so surprised by the enemies. Christ predicted it for His followers. If we take "can't we all just get along" to its current extreme of hyper-tolerance, we won't make enemies, but we probably won't be preaching the gospel, either. We, in and of ourselves, can't seem to get along. If we would all live our lives in Christ, I think we could.

Why indeed am I surprised to have enemies? The gospel makes it clear that enemies, like the poor, will always be with us. The same Master who told us, "Blessed are the poor in spirit", said, "Love your enemies." Of course we will have enemies.

I am getting ready to enter the second phase of the Donec Formetur retreat of the Pauline Family, a retreat based on the spirituality of Blessed James Alberione.In it we follow the purgative way, the illuminative way, and the unitive way of spiritual growth "Until Christ be formed in us," ("donec formetur"). This is a classic threefold way of spiritual growth to which Fr. Alberione added an explicit connection to the Trinity. He attributes each of the classic stages to one of the three divine Persons of the Trinity: the purgative stage (conversion and a new creation) to the Father, the illuminative stage (incarnation) to the Son made human, and the unitive stage (sanctification) to the Holy Spirit.

I was reading this a little while ago, and began to relate it to enemies:
Alberione asserts that his Christology incorporates the belief in a Divinity that is One but at the same time Triune and is therefore of its very essence relational; this belief sustains the importance for Alberione of the relational dimention of Pauline spirituality.

Christ is defined as the only begotten Son of the Father, ineffably united to him in the Spirit. Through his incarnation, he enters into a relationship of intimacy with the human race, for whom he becomes Master, Way, Truth and Life. Acceptance of that relationship to the point of Christification is what saves the human person. For Alberione, "to become saints, we are to incarnate God in us." This is achieved by entering into the school of Jesus Master, relating to him as disciple. This involves a lifetime of self-detachment, of self-giving, of devotion, until the disciple is one with the Master.
If Christ enters into a relationship of intimacy with the human race, then he has entered into a relationship of intimacy with his own enemies. If there is a relational dimension to the Divinity, then there is a relational dimension to war: we are related to our enemies.

If we are related to our enemies, we are their neighbor. The very stark fact that enemies exist puts the lie to what Joanne rightly calls the hyper-tolerant, mistaken mantra, "why can't we all just get along?"

The remedy is not tolerance, but love. Accepting the relational dimension to war, we must love our enemies because they are our neighbor.

This makes me wonder again about snarkiness in St. Blog's Parish. What role does rhetoric play in war? What are the just parameters of killing our enemies through language? What is fair in war?

The Internet brings a power to unite comrades in war who are separated by geography. I am thinking now of the culture war. Do we wind up squandering this unity by spending so much time telling each other about new outrages perpetrated by the enemy. Could we not use this unity to discover the meaning of our Master's command, "Love your enemies." ? As I have discovered through my own trials, there is nothing obvious about the meaning of that command.

How do we, as a virtual parish, love our enemies? How do we as a Church love our enemies? How do we do good to those who harm us?

I conclude by going back to what Joanne said:
We, in and of ourselves, can't seem to get along. If we would all live our lives in Christ, I think we could.

No comments: