Letter from Alan
Reflecting on conversations with Jesus
Today there seems to be a lot of uncertainty and confusion amongst
Christians and especially Catholics as to the Iraqi War and whether
or not to support peace or war. As Christians it is important that
we place Christ Our Lord and His teachings above all else, even our
human loyalties just as the early church did and just as the saints
and martyrs did.
When Our Lord came to earth He proclaimed peace, love and forgiveness.
Today, however, many people claim the times and situation to be different.
How different are they? At the time of Our Lord the Romans occupied
the Holy Land. Many were killed, tortured, enslaved or oppressed by
the Romans or their puppets. The Zealots and others hoped the Messiah
would come and free them from this and bring them to victory over
their enemies. However, Our Lord Jesus came and proclaimed peace,
love and forgiveness, not force of arms. He taught this clearly:
Matthew 5:39 - But I say to you offer no resistance to one who is
evil. when someone strikes you on your right cheek turn the other
one to him as well.
Matthew 5:44 - Love your enemies.
Luke 7:27-29 - But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good
to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who
mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek offer the
other as well.
These teachings with the commandment Thou Shalt not kill appear
to be some of the hardest for people to obey or follow. Often like
the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes we make clever arguments to justify
ignoring or changing our understanding of what God has said to mankind.
Some claim that when The Lord chased the money changers from the temple
using force He gave permission for us to use force against others.
However, Our Lord did not kill these people even though with one word
He could have done so. Instead He stopped the wrong they did giving
them then the opportunity in the rest of their lives to reflect on
His actions and words.
Some quote the Catechism teaching on a just war but the Pope has said
he will not bless this war as just. There are those who look to the
great Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine and use their words as justification
for war. When Jesus Our Lord was confronted by the Jews over divorce
they used the words of Moses to justify divorce. Yet Jesus replied:
Mark 10:5 - Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this
Would Our Lord be saying this today to those who try to justify war
by the words of Saint Thomas and St.Augustine?
The Vicar of Christ, his Holiness Pope John Paul II stated he was
firmly opposed to and would not bless as just the Iraqi war. Yet,
many who claim allegiance to the Pope say that the Pope did not say
the war was unjust and use this to claim it to be just or just plainly
ignore his words.
Some people believe that we must respond to evil with force of arms
yet, Our Lord, by example, showed mankind another way to respond to
evil. When He was abused, tortured, crucified and killed Our Lord
only responded in love and forgiveness. Even though the Son of God
had the power of Heaven at His command and could have called on that
power to destroy those who were treating Him so, He did not. Instead
He gave us the example which as Christians, as imitators of Christ,
we are called to follow. Our Lord gave His life in love knowing it
was this that would overcome evil. He showed us that we must be prepared
to do the same in our lives if we are to be like Him and that we should
not respond violently to violence.
Our Lord also when He opened His arms on the cross in love opened
a way for us to reach a deeper level of spirituality and higher levels
of grace. In imitating Christ, Our Lord, by answering evil only with
love and forgiveness, we can be lifted through the cross to a spiritual
level of freedom which brings us to be grace-filled vessels of Gods
merciful love. This grace frees us from the chains of fear, as now
in that grace we come to understand the power of Gods sacrificial
love. The power that nothing or no one can overcome. Filled with this
power the fear of death is taken from us and we come to see that this
life is part of our eternal life in Christ, Our Lord; that this life,
though valuable, is only a moment in eternity, a moment to be lived
for God so that the remainder of our eternal moments will be with
Him in heaven. With this realization comes the understanding that
to cling to this life is futile and that while treasuring this life
we should not be afraid to lose it for Christ Our Lord. Now without
this chain shackling a person to the worldly life the spiritual realm
opens up as the scales fall from their spiritual sight. Now it becomes
clear that even if it seems as if evil is victorious, it is not. Now
one can see that even if the whole world is one day ruled by those
who deny Christ this will only be short lived for the power of His
victory will bring His glorious kingdom to earth regardless of the
opposition to it. Now it becomes obvious Gods victory does not depend
on us that, instead, we are called to be part of His victory by uniting
with Him in His sacrificial love. Eyes are opened to see that if we
imitate Our Lord by submitting to the all powerful will of the Father
unto death, we can be lifted on the cross with Christ,Our Lord, and
that then through us His grace is poured out to touch and bless many
others bringing them to salvation in Him.
Today the fear of terrorism, the fear of our Muslim brothers and sisters
ruling the world, the fear of evil, leads many to justify acts of
war, to justify force of arms and to justify the taking of life. These
fears trap many and many in fear deny themselves the opportunity that
the saints and martyrs have embraced in the past, the opportunity
of being lifted high in the grace of God. In denying themselves this
grace they also deny others who would have been touched by that grace
through them. In denying this grace pain and suffering is allowed
to grow through the evil in the world that is not now confronted by
the sacrificial love of the imitators of Christ.
I encourage all Christians to consider what Christ calls them to and
to answer that call in becoming sacrificial lambs of love prepared
to give their all for Christ in spreading His love, His peace and
His forgiveness. Just as He gave His life for us proclaiming love,
peace and forgiveness to all, we too must proclaim peace to the world,
May the peace of Christ be with you all.
Postscript - A Lenten Message from Jesus:
"The winning of an unjust war
does not make it just."
Alan Ames Ministry