Sunday, March 18, 2007

Quo Vadis, Domine?

"Millions of people around the world sadly believe this is a Christian war," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, one of the groups sponsoring the event. "We have to clear up the confusion."

"'Quo vadis, Domine?' his voice asked at last, punctured by his sobbing. 'Where are you going, Lord?' Nazarius heard no answer. But a voice of ineffable sweetness and abundant sorrow rang in Peter’s ears, 'When you abandon my people,' he heard, 'I must go to Rome to be crucified once more.' The apostle lay still and silent with his face pressed into the dust. Nazarius thought he had either died or fainted, but he rose at last, picked up his pilgrim’s staff, and turned again toward the seven hills.
'Quo vadis, domine?' the boy asked like an echo of the apostle’s cry.
'To Rome,' Peter murmured." Quo Vadis, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

To the question, "Where are you going, Lord?" the answer always returns, "I am going to be crucified for your neglect, your silence in the face of injustice, and the face of injustice that you so continually display to those who have done no wrong to you." The words should ring louder and louder in our hearts until, at last, we find the strength to respond.

"One 15 year old year old called Ban Ismet, hit in the legs, described how she had watched her friend Maha bleed to death. "The shrapnel hit her in the eyes," she said, "and there was blood all over her face. She was dead." These are the sights that Christians wish to hide from themselves, so that they don't have to understand what their civilization means to the other peoples of the world.

"The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which represents about 45,000 churches across America, endorsed a declaration against torture drafted by 17 evangelical scholars. The authors, who call themselves Evangelicals for Human Rights and campaign for "zero tolerance" on torture, say that the US administration has crossed "boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible" in the treatment of detainees."

Now if only the Catholics would make a similar repudiation of torture.

"Only love is more powerful than hatred," the teacher said simply. "Only
love can clean the world of evil." Believe in the power of love - there is no cleansing by violence. Violence can only cleanse us of life, as its brown and sandy footprints across the face of our mother so clearly reveal. It does not bring justice, heals nothing, and destroys the souls of those who practice it or tolerate it. The Christian martyrs knew this, why don't we, who have inherited a far enriched tradition, know it as well?

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