Friday, January 22, 2010

Abortion: "The infant leaped in her womb"

If within their hearts they do not hear the call of God, they will not hear you either, and they will not allow you to speak to them or to others. They will shut you down with pride, feeling so justified for doing so. Yet, no slaves are greater than their Master (John 13:16), for the spirit that dwells in them has used others before them to shut down your Master.

There is no room for this unborn infant in the inns of Bethlehem (Luke 2:7). There is no room for this baby in the world of King Herod; Jerusalem must have only one King (Matthew 2:6). The infants of Bethlehem are sacrificed to avoid the chaos that one infant would bring. Herod's law silences them, permits them to be massacred based on their gender and stage of life (Matthew 2:16). The voice of God's great prophet proclaims: "Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more." (Matthew 2:18).

There is no room for Jesus in their world, he is destined to be pinned to a cross, his blood and life drawn out of him. Their actions are justified by human laws. Even spirituals among them justify this necessary action of silencing the one for the sake of others (John 18:14) . They choose to draw life and blood out of him, so that they don't have to hear him again. His innocent pure voice counters the world's voice, which they have given consent to govern their hearts. The real Jesus must never be heard again, for human hearts can never have two masters they must accept one and reject the other (Matthew 6:24).

Should you judge them for shutting you down? Far from it. Even more, repeat your Master's prayer for them as he hangs on the cross "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." (Luke 24: 34). Invite them to take courage and choose to hear God in their hearts, so that they can choose to let go of the darkness that enslaves them with fear. Invite them to take up the light of Christ that bring them life, a light that has no part in darkness, shines in it, and cannot be overcome by it (John 1:5).

It is my brother who informed me how Mother Teresa replied when she was asked about abortion. I don't have her exact words but I am basing my words below on her simple answer.

The first human person to proclaim the arrival of our Lord Jesus the Christ with us here on earth is an unborn infant in his mother's womb, and his name is John. According to our Holy Scriptures, Luke 1:39-56, the unborn infant John, when hearing the voice of Mary, the mother of Jesus, leaped in Elizabeth's womb, letting his mother know who is in her presence. The Holy Spirit fills her, and she cries out to Mary:

"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does it happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy." (Luke 1:42-44)

John does what God sent him to do. He testifies to the true light that enlightens everyone so that all might believe through him. He testifies to the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. (John 1:6ff)

In John's first testimony, Jesus is an infant in his mother's womb. Does Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, call Mary "Mother-to-be of my Lord"? Far from it; she calls her after being filled with the Holy Spirit, "mother of my Lord." She also refers to John as the "infant in my womb," an unborn infant that "leaps for joy" .

Open your eyes my dear brothers and sisters. Or better yet, open your hearts so that you can see as God wants you to see. Put away fear and have no choice in darkness. Be brave and trust in God.

God is well aware of the heaviness of your cross and even more of your ability to carry it as long as you stay focused on him. God will fill your heart with joy that no one can take from you. Remember his words: "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." (Luke 9:48).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why am I a Christian?

In my Maronite Catholic Tradition, God is referred to as "Muhib Al-Bashar," which is Arabic for "Lover of People," or "Lover of Humans," or "Lover of Man-kind." The closest parallel we can make to this relation, is the love of a mother for her children, and we know from scripture that this falls short to the love of God for us.

When great religions compete for my soul in a direct or indirect manner, I admire the presence of what is good in them, and I confess that God communicates to many through them, and loves with his divine passion many who profess them, and many love him back.

Some like Hinduism and Buddhism are older than mine and have passed the test of time. They still appeal in their wisdom to the hunger of many people today, bringing them closer to enlightenment and humility in a tightly connected universe.

Some are newer than mine, like Islam, and give assurance and comfort to many in emphasizing the perfection of the Islamic Testament, descending directly from the mouth of God in the most beautiful miraculous poetic way. It appeals to many in projecting the greatness, transcendence, and providence of the one and only God, high above all, who gives eternal blessings to all who surrender to his will.

One religion, namely Judaism, gave birth to mine. It is the story of Israel the "first bride" and favorite of God. She confesses him as the creator of all. She witnesses to his adventures with her. How he loves her, walks and talks with her, gets angry and abandons her, regrets his anger and goes searching for her, brings her back to him, completely in love with her and passionate about her. She tells of his promises to her; promises that she trusts he will fulfill.

As I reflect on the mercy of God and give him thanks for his relation to all these people, the crucifix stands before me. Silent I become, and I understand in my heart and in my mind why I am for Christ and in Christ. A whisper says, "God became man;" the world shouts, "no way." A whisper says, "God died on a Cross;" the world says, "non-sense". A whisper says, "God rose from the dead;" the world cannot believe.

The wisdom of the world shouts back, "What kind of a foolish God would do such a thing?" "What does the eternal have to do with time, space, and human indwelling?" "Our God rises above crucifixion and resurrections." "Our God is not capable of love and other human emotions;" "Your God is so different than ours."

A voice says, "Why would the God of the universe risk the integrity of salvation by letting his story be told in weakness by human beings who contradict each other or at least emphasize their own distinct points?"

Yet God does not justify his ways. He inspires the common person to tell his story and the common person to be touched and to recognize him through the story. He wills that inspired human beings tell this story. It is like children telling a story about their mom's love for them while sitting all around her, and she is rejoicing in their excitement and is paying no attention to their faults in telling the story. For what is most important, the story of love between her and them, is coming through so clearly.

For those who value love above all else, God will speak to their hearts, and they will fall in love with the crucified one. They will fall in love with the lover of man-kind. They will fall in love with all man-kind since he tied loving him with loving them.

I am a Christian because I am in love with God who is also in love with me. In time I will learn to let him fully live in me so I may become like him a lover of man-kind. And there is no greater image of how to love than the crucifix.

Friday, January 15, 2010

God is here and now

Everything has tumbled down. What is down beneath the earth has surfaced. Bones are crushed, blood has poured, and lives have ended. Many remained captured within tight coffins, without light, water, or food. Many are praying. Many are crying. Many are afraid. Many are anxious. Many are dying. Many are lost. Humans do not have the capacity to capture the horror. Many are helping from within and from all around the world. May God have mercy on us all.

It hurts so much. The hurt does not go away. Eyes are lifted up to God with shock. Eyes are lifted up to God with anger. Eyes are lifted up to God with painful sorrow and begging for mercy. The pain is here and now and it does not go away.

God is good. The hand that moves the stone is created by him for this purpose and it has fulfilled his will. The mouth that comfort the abandoned is created by him for this purpose and it has fulfilled his will. Every soul that lifts her prayer to God on behalf of the sorrowful has fulfilled his will. Every act to help the injured, the sorrowful, the dying, the orphan, is an act directly toward God. Still the pain does not go away.

The pain is here and now and does not go away .... and so is our God.