June 2012

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

The Gospel is about God's love for his creation, "For God so loved the world .. ." This godly love is different than other kinds of love. It is unlimited, boundless, and unconditional. This is what Christianity was known for in the early days, not so much now I'm afraid. We are known more, according to recent polls, by what we are against. This is unfortunate because it deviates from the message Christ came to bring.

The world does not and will never march to the Gospel drum. As much as we try to "christianize" culture we discover, in the end, that the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. Such efforts most often become self-serving ends in themselves. Even when the world does not behave as we would like, the commandment to love remains.

In our increasingly polarized world of us against them the message of the Gospel is urgently needed. We need to stop setting up peoples and cultures as enemies and see all of humankind as Jesus does, with love and compassion rather than fear and judgment. "Love one another as I have loved you," is directed towards us as an instruction for how we are to treat everyone, not just those who are like us or agree with us.

The great theologian Olivier Clement wrote, "We have enemies in order to hold them responsible for our anxiety." Repentance is about owning up to our own shadows, not projecting them on others.

Christians have no enemies if we love as Jesus did. If we are wronged we do not return evil for evil. We forgive. "Father, forgive them..." Jesus also said, "Love your enemies." When we love our enemies we no longer have enemies.

Brothers and sisters, love one another and everyone you meet every day and everywhere. When the shadow of fear rises know that it rises inside ofus and need not be permitted to poison our thoughts and behaviors. Acknowledge the shadow with compassion, but do not submit to it. Love means believing all things and hoping all things, as St. Paul wrote, and it never, ever insists on its own way with regard to others, friend or foe.

Love in Christ,

+Fr. Antony