Aloha Friday Message – April 24, 2015 – Where now?

1517AFC042415 – Where Now?

Read it online here, please.

2 Timothy 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Romans 8:15 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba!Father!”

Proverbs 16:25 25 Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right,
but in the end it is the way to death.

Peace be with you, Beloved. How our hearts long for that “Peace that surpasses all understanding!” Daily we hear of the great violence done against many people – notably against Christian – by the group which identifies itself as ISIS. This horrific and egregious violence prompts much anger and hateful speech around the world. There are vituperative arguments from Christians, Muslims, and many other parties trying to lay blame against ISIS, Christian, Jews, the British Empire, and Satan himself. There is blame enough to go around, but focusing on that makes us part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I plead with you to stop here, and to read 2 Timothy 3:1-13! This cross-references to Matthew 10:2222 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. In 2 Timothy, Paul describes a world that sounds a lot like what we see happening today. It is a world so given over to evil and to self-gratification that the entire concept of Truth has been belittled to being nearly meaningless. One thinks of Pilate’s question to Jesus: “What is Truth?”

I’m going to do some non-PC things here and comment about Truth. First I want to quote again Frank E. Peretti’s statement about The Truth: “There’s no way for you to know whether what I’m telling you is true unless you know what the truth is. And there’s no way for you to know what the truth is unless there is a truth that you can know. (If you’re searching for the truth, and there is none, then what are you searching for?) You’ve got to have a truth that true whether you believe it or not. A truth that is true whether you like it or not. It’s true whether you even know about it or not. It’s just TRUE: OBJECTIVE EXTERNAL ETERNAL TRUTH THAT STANDS IN AND OF ITSELF.”

When I think about it that way, The Truth has to be objective, not subjective. I can’t just say, “I know the truth unless The Truth exists and I have encountered it is ways to understand it without external arguments. Most of us reading this today will realize that this is a working definition of Faith. We know The Truth experientially because we see it at work in our lives. The Truth that we know upholds the dignity of all life – everything that God created from quarks to narwhals. Faith knows that desecration of any part of life is “anti-Faith.”  Faith knows that Truth does not seek to verify itself, or to vilify others. Faith knows that Peace is the end-goal of the universe (notice I didn’t capitalize that!). When everything comes to an end, the result is Peace because Truth is seed that blossoms and bears the fruit of Peace. Those who deliberately pervert The Truth, no matter how sincere they are about defending their position – will not know Peace in the end, but only Death. Perversion of Truth and Faith are known by another name: Sin. Those who attribute their sin to God’s will pervert The Truth. Their way ends in death; but often not before there errors cause a great deal of damage.

Jesus made the point several times that his followers would be persecuted, and today we see it’s by an ever-growing cadre of persecutors. Recall he said in Matthew 5:10-12 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falselyon my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Today the persecution of Christians is very widespread – and you need to realize it’s not just so-called jihadists who are committing this persecution. Take a look at this map which you can find here: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

PERSECUTION2015s

 

Here you see listed the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted in 2015. Wherever you see the red areas, those are where the persecutions are most severe. In large portions of those red areas, the persecutions are in the name of Allah.

Allah is not Jehovah. Jesus – Isi in Arabic – is not the son of Allah. Allah is a word reserved exclusively for God in Islam and cannot be made plural. The origins of Islam reputedly go back to Ishmael a son of Abraham, and several Old Testament personages appear in the scriptures of Islam. Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David are part of the Islamic heritage, and while Allah is the word for God, and Islam purports there is only one God, it is not Allah that is the Judeo-Christian God of Mercy, Grace, and Peace. The three “Abrahamic faiths,” – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are monotheistic religions (all believe in only one God). Judaism rejects the idea of Jesus being the Messiah, and similarly so does Islam. Christianity and Judaism reject the idea that the Quran is a more accurate accounting of the ultimate truth of God’s relationship with humanity. The argument is that in every language there is a unique word for God – Dios, Dieu, Gott, Maykapal, Ke Akua, Mungu, Deus, but all are the same entity – God. Further it is argued that in the Hindu religion all of the “gods” are manifestations of the same one and only Supreme Being. Who is right? Who indeed has The Truth? Which of these three great religions has “He whose hands are sinless, let him throw the first stone.”?

Those who remain slaves to violence against their neighbor are those who fail to love God and neighbor, and in any of the three Abrahamic religions, that is a sin. When that sin is promulgated against other humans in the name of their God, that is a heinous sin. Who committed that sin first? Does it matter? It could go all the way back to Moses – or even earlier – but my question here today is, “Who is committing that sin now?” Who is it that is trying to use fear and terror or promote the idea that other religions have twisted and attempted to invalidate the purity of God’s revelations of his Glory and Love to mankind? Is it the Jews? Is it the Christians? Is it the Muslims? Is it you or me? In my heart it does not matter who started it. It does not matter who continues it. It matters only who stops it by everyone, from everyone, to everyone, for everyone. I call upon all of us – Muslim, Christian, Jew; atheist, pagan, agnostic; any and all humans – to end it in prayer. Let’s look back in history at one such event – the Battle of Lepanto.

October 7, 1571, a great naval battle took place. Pope Pius V – who convened the Council of Trent, published the works of Thomas Aquinas, instituted a new catechism, excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, and instituted a great many reforms of the clergy – called for 40 hours of prayer from all of Europe, forty hours of ceaseless and fervent Rosaries in support of the Holy League that opposed the Ottoman Turks. The victory ended the threat of Islam against Western Europe.

We need a similar surge of prayer around the world – not just in Europe, but everywhere that Peace is threatened by terror and violence. As you look at the map again, you can see that many millions of people are suffering due to the mendacious campaign of violence, abuse, and tyranny imposed by men who claim that their religion is one of peace. Therefore, let us hope – and urge – leaders in all three of these “Abrahamic Faiths” to call their believers together in prayer for deliverance from these monstrous assassins of Peace. It is insufficient to rail against them with angry words. It is even insufficient to war against them with destruction. The best weapons we have are the Two Great Commandments and fervent, consistent, truthful, and hope-filled prayers for wisdom and mercy to sweep over and through ISIS.

Don’t think that will work? Then you’d best pray that many others will believe it will work. Evil is not overcome by evil but by good. Look at what St. Peter told us in 1 Peter 3:13-17 13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. Our Christian brothers and sisters who have been martyred by ISIS testify against those who murdered them. The jihadists claim their Islamist martyrdom is what ensures their reign in Allah’s paradise. Our prayer should be that Truth will prevail, the violence will cease in light of Truth, and God will soon remove the evil that disrupts his Peace.

If you don’t want to pray the Rosary once a day every day (or all together for 40 hours), pray at the very least for Peace to reign where violence now holds sway, and pray that the highest levels of leadership in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – in full agreement – will pray and ask God to command to put an end to this aberration of religion that is so decidedly wicked. This is not the first time in history that a thoroughly evil force has devoured the peace of its neighbors, but we can certainly pray that it will be defeated soon and thereby become the last thoroughly evil force to threaten the planet. Defeating this evil requires an act of Grace. I ask you to take 2 minutes and listen to this short Lesson on Grace by Frederick Buechner. It may open you to the Grace to pray for enough Faith to believe in Peace. That kind of Faith is Courageous Faith, the kind of faith martyrs show, a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. It is true: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When any earthling claims that murder, torture, terror, and evil are gifts from his god, there is a way that seems to be right, but in the end it is the way to death.

Where now? To our knees in prayer.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.  Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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