A Reply To Terror

love is the only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend
I long to board a plane, land in New Zealand, and weep with those who are weeping. Forty-nine were killed at two mosques in Christchurch, with an alleged Australian gunman streaming the rampage on Facebook and leaving us an on-line manifesto. Four have been detained.
       Needless to say, the assailant(s?) were “extremist.” Authorities are right in describing this as “an act of terror.” Many, like me, are searching for words.
       Mine came from a reading from today’s Liturgy of the Hours. Saint Aelred of Rievaulx offers us a alternative extreme (no moderation here). The 12th-century Scottish saint extols Christ’s love for enemies. Aelrod knew whereof he spoke: He was widely known for his energy and gentleness. Dom Henry Wansbrough describes him: “Aelred was a singularly attractive figure, a man of great spiritual power but also of warm friendliness and humanity.”
       Consider Aelrod’s homily my reply to the terrorists:
The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.
      In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.
     Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakable serenity – Father, forgive them – and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?
     Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgement; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognize my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
      If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savior the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.
     But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.
, , ,

About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: