Radicalized

In his encyclical on Mother Earth, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, encourages us to embrace a spiritual life like St. Francis’.  That requires “ecological conversion.”  Pope Francis writes:

First, that entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate His generosity in self-sacrifice and good works. (paragraph 220)

God has freely given us the world.  He has freely given us ourselves.  He gives, out of love, not reckoning a balance sheet or including an invoice.  If we got a bill from the Lord–for our use of His golden sun, and the earth beneath our feet, and the gravity that keeps us attached, and all the cells He knit together out of nothing to make up our bodies; for the trees we look at and take shade under…  An invoice for all these things, and everything we owe Him for, payable on 30 day terms…  What could we put in an envelope, or send via electronic funds transfer?

st_francis_receiving_stigmata-400Which means:  true life for us involves giving God thanks with love and obedience, and trying to imitate His generosity.

I think we can say that we have had a rough summer as a nation.  And I don’t just mean that the Orioles have lost three in a row to the Yankees.  We have had a rough year, as a world.

We hear about people “radicalizing.”  Such-and-such person “radicalized,” and decided that God wills a terrorist attack.

We might think:  That’s insane!  But we delude ourselves and give ourselves false comfort if we dismiss terrorism as insane; if we dismiss attacks on the police, or on any defenseless people, as insane.  The attacks themselves have required sober and careful sanity in order to pull them off.

The “radical” idea that God wills terrorism is not insane.  It is wrong.  Altogether wrong.  It is untrue.

The spring of living water, the mystery revealed to the children of the Kingdom of Heaven is:  God loves with pure generosity.  More than a mother loves the babe at her breast, more than a husband loves his new bride, with more intensity than the heat at the center of the sun:  God loves every human being.

We need to radicalize.  Not just tolerance, but love.  Not simply justice, but self-sacrificing willingness to die, even to save the guilty.  Not just peaceful co-existence with each other, but going out in search of those who live in the shadows.

There’s only one answer to the confusion and fear that has filled the summer so far.  Radicalized Christianity.  What did the Lord Jesus know on the cross?  When He said, “Forgive them, Father,” and “Brother, you will be with me in paradise?”  He knew that God’s free generosity overcomes death itself.

Wrong religion concludes:  Let me kill others and myself for God’s glory.  Radicalized Christianity concludes:  “Even though I walk in the shadow of death, I fear no evil.  Because God comforts me.”

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