Saturday, November 2, 2013

Embracing the 'Folly of the Cross,' as St. Francis Preached and Lived

       THE LAMB CATHOLIC WORKER, Columbus - When forced to codify the Franciscan way of life, St. Francis merely replied: "Yes, this is my rule - the folly of the cross." His way of being solely an instrument of God's own peace and God's own love in this world was so unpopular during the Middle Ages and especially during the Crusades, that his own order tried to kick him out, even with the stigmata (for this along with other items such as his radical poverty).
      Fully allowing the "weeds" to grow together with the crops (people who behave well and who behave badly), is a message taught by God concerning how we who consider ourselves children of God are called to live harmoniously with others in this exquisite world He so lovingly created as good.  Yet, he furthered this precept through Jesus by now calling all to actually love the "weeds,"  to love our enemies, or those very different from ourselves, who either bother us, disagree with us, offend us, or hate us - whoever "we" are.  God personally demonstrates how we are to love the good and bad alike by unflinchingly showering rain and sun on both equally, lovingly, without partiality.  Are we above God not to?


King's Son
Lord, isn't your creation wasteful?
Fruits never equal the seedlings abundance.
Springs scatter water.
The sun gives out enormous light.
May your bounty teach me greatness of heart.
May your magnificence stop me being mean.
Seeing you a prodigal and open-handed giver,
Let me give unstintingly, like a king's son,
Like God's own.

Dom Helder Camera The Desert is Fertile

     Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban, survived, and boldly advocates for the education of girls and women, and more recently, for peace.  She met with President Barack Obama and told him to stop the deadly drone attacks on Pakistan.  They are killing many innocent civilians, including children, and turning many ordinary people against the U.S. and onto the side of the Taliban, she said.  She was also interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show who marveled at her bold peacemaking and wondered what he has been doing all of his life.

Military Reaper Drone with Hellfire Missiles
       As we approach the season of Advent, preparing for the birth of the Prince of Peace, may we open our hearts in love and peace to all, the very peace that is also Christ Himself ("He shall BE peace"), to embrace the "weeds," or people in our minds highly different from ourselves.  

     There is a new children's picture book out called, Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, and Crescents that speaks of the holiness of deeply regarding other people and respecting their beliefs, their very persons.  This is particularly so among all of the children of Abraham, of whom all Christians, Muslims, and Jewish people are sons and daughters, each and every one, historically. Abraham's firstborn son was Ishmael, the bloodline of Islam, and then Isaac, the bloodline of Jews and Christians.
      The story goes that "there is a hole [in the Jerusalem sky] ..." through which "hope reaches heaven."  It goes on to describe how "Jewish sages tell of  ... Solomon ... and the [great] Temple being made ... and torn down [many times], and that every stone from which was flung from the Temple in these attempts to destroy it, 'a synagogue was built.'"
     Then the book poetically speaks of how "Christians tell of a wondrous star in the Jerusalem sky, ... announcing the news of Jesus' birth. And how thirty-three years later, a spring afternoon's daylight blackened .. when Jesus died on a small ... hill"  What should have concluded the sky theme here is the following: "Followers retold how Jesus' apostles witnessed Him rising up through the sky; and an angel telling them to stop looking up, but 'go and tell the good news.'"
     Finally, it tells the story of how "Muslims tell of the prophet Muhammed's night journey ... in which he rode through the sky on a flying horse, then reached heaven on a stairway of light.  Where Muhammed rose to heaven now stands a mosque with sky blue stones and a dome of gold, shining like a second sun."
    The book speaks tenderly of Jerusalem, a city that has "seventy names," mainly called the "City of Peace," yet "no place has been fought over more - seventeen times torn apart and rebuilt..."  The book concludes that "perhaps possession of Jerusalem is like trying to own the sky," this city that "has been mapped on God's palm -- ... with prayers for peace and miracles ... and hope that lights the Jerusalem sky."

      This eloquently matches a very recent Catholic mass reading concerning love of Jerusalem.  It is one of the few New Testament writings that mention Jesus weeping:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!  You kill the prophets
and stone those sent to you!  How often I have longed 
to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
but you would not let me."

Matt. 23:37