Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mt 13:36-43 Coexist

Mt 13:36-43  Coexist
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said to his disciples:  “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.  The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.”
While driving back home, I noticed a bumper sticker that read “Coexist”.  The letters were written in the form of various religious symbols.  The “C” was in the form of a crescent moon (Islam); the “T” was in the form of a cross (Christianity); the “X” was in the form of the Star of David.
Although I have no doubts of the owner’s good intentions, I do wonder if the designer was open to any religion at all.  I wonder because I could easily design a bumper sticker myself with the same word but written in an entirely different form.  Why limit our hope to just religion, especially if our goal is to live in perfect harmony?  Why limit ourselves to religion when we can use so many political and national symbols or colors as well. 
For example, I would love to see “Coexist” written in various colors.  “C” in blue (Capitalists), “E” in green (Environmentalists), “S” in red (Socialists), “X” in black (national socialists).  Or better yet, why not write the letters using the colors of national flags:  “C” (USA), “O” (North Korea), “E”(Israel), “X” (Iran), “I” (Iraq), “S” (Saudi Arabia)? 
Why not?  Unless, we have a hidden bias against religion; that religious piety is the source of all our problems and not human thinking?  Or, to be more specific, that religion, and not human beings, is the source of all our problems.
People love to group religions together, as if they were all the same.  Would we do that to animals?  Would we place a cat in the cage with a lion?  Are they not the same? Would we do that to a dog and a coyote?    I don’t think so. 
Would a math teacher be upset with me if I claimed that all numbers are the same?  Can’t we group them all together?  Is one more significant than the other?  Can’t they coexist?
There is a place in our world for coexistence.  For example, I dream to see a Republican endorse a Democrat, not because he/she is a Democrat, but because he/she is really the better candidate.   I would love to see a Democrat nominate a Republican as their running mate, not because they have lost their mind, but because two minds are better than one.  This is real coexistence. 
But when it comes to the truth, there can be no space for falsehoods; when it comes to love, there can be no place for hate; when it comes to unity, there can be no time for sin.
My concern with false ideology is how it disguises itself as authentic piety.  Why should religions coexist?  Did the Lord ask for coexistence?  Of course not!  He asked for his disciples to go throughout the world and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   He did not ask us to declare war on religion, like atheists have done.  Neither did he ask us to declare war on religious liberty, like secularists have done.  He asked us to declare war on sin, like Christ has done by dying to oneself and “loving one another as I have loved you.” 
Let us compete.  Let us race.  Christianity, like all religions, was not created to coexist.  Christianity was created to stand alone, like the number “1” or a gold medalist.  Let us compete.  Let us race.  Most religious people would find nothing wrong with this statement.  Islam was not created to coexist; it was not created to be one truth among many truths.  What distinguishes one religion from another is the truth; the truth found in its founder. Christianity is not like any other religion because Christ was like no other.  He did not die in battle.  He died on a Cross.  He did not hate his enemies; he loved His enemies.  He is not God or man; He is God and man.  He sowed good seed where there was only bad seed. 
Christianity is not a religion of conquerors, unless you consider love conquering.  

18 comments:

  1. I hope this comment goes through today....

    I suspect the owner of the "Coexist" bumper sticker belongs to a religion. I doubt he/she is an atheist. Maybe the bumper sticker is an ecumenical effort? Maybe it's sending a message that the religions should learn to "get along" in this world. Stop the violence, animosity, bickering. Peacefully "coexist." We all believe in GOD but from different perspectives. Not one religion is better than another. I don't like the idea of Christianity competing or winning a race like the Olympics. No religion should compete but learn to respectfully communicate and compromise.

    I happen to be taking an Islam course. The religion is by no means as extremist as people perceive it to be. The Islam truth surrounds itself around the monotheistic God "Allah" and Quran scriptures & Sunna text. They advocate peace and justice. They may pray differently and not be as heirarchly structured as the Christian Church, but by no means are they necessarily inferior to Christianity. Christians shouldn't attempt to conquer Muslims just like the Muslims shouldn't attempt to conquer Christians. (Or compete to see who's Prophet is better.)

    Blessings! Glad you came home safely, Father. :)

    -Jennifer

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  2. I do wonder why God allowed all the religions in the world to exist in the chronological order that they appeared on this earth. I think He is looking down on us (Christians) to see how well we are going to try to love our enemies. To whom much is given…… Is this not coexisting? Why is the Church promoting ecumenism?
    p.s. I definitely believe that love is conquering!!!

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  3. Religion has been the excuse for wars since the beginning of time. I say excuse b/c to me, the person living their religion as it is intended to be lived would be living by the golden rule. This is basic in all the world religions….yes, even the Quran. The persons who are extremists / fundamentalist in all religions (or lack of) are the ones contributing to the war mentality. “My religion/ beliefs are superior to yours.” It IS human beings who are the problem; but religion gives us a platform to argue, to fight, to justify our wars. Throw a little oil, money and social justice into the equation to muddy the waters.
    If Jesus was one of superiority, which He is, why did He humble himself to die and forgive his killers? Isn’t He trying to tell us something w/o telling us directly? I know this is your point in this meditation.
    What I have learned from my Catholic faith is that I want to die to my superiority in the way I think, offer up my everyday sufferings to and for God to save humanity. If God is Love how can I be so ‘not humble’ and preach my superiority? I do believe that the Catholic faith is the Truth, otherwise I would not be one. But it is in loving, respecting others' beliefs and coexisting that I am exactly living out my Catholicism!! Please don’t take this next line as a criticism of the Catholic doctrine, it is not: if we are not careful (human error), our Catholicism will be the last obstacle that prevents us from union w/God while we are still on earth! The only commandment Jesus gave was Love. He commanded us! I do my part (love), Jesus does His (converts). Then you Father Alfonse, get to baptize, b/c the person has free will to do so!
    I do wonder why God allowed all the religions in the world to exist in the chronological order that they appeared on this earth. Everything, everything is for a purpose. I think He is looking down on us (Christians) to see how well we are going to try to love our enemies. To whom much is given…… Is this not coexisting? Why is the Church promoting ecumenism?

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  4. The Church is involved in ecumenism to find common ground and to understand our differences. It is not to compromise. Plenty of documents that make that point clear. Let me ask you a simple question. Each religion must follow ther founder. That's one simple way of determining if you are a good Christian or a good Muslim. So tell me, How did The prophet Mohammad die?

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  5. I believe in ecumenism, not compromise!! Coexisting is not compromising my beliefs.
    By your response, I don't think I made my point clear enough. Sorry.
    I don't know Father: how did Mohammad die?

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  6. Oh sorry. I thought that was what u meant by compromising. :). He died while in battle. His troops were attacking a Jewish settlement. Very human. Nothing new there. Christianity is superior because it considers the law of love supreme, like it's founder and like its God.

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    1. Father Alfonse - Yet again my original post didn't go through. I spoke along the same lines as anonymous, but I see your viewpoint. (I don't know if this is a purposeful exclusion of my comments or an error in my Blogger profile.)

      I happen to be taking a class on Islam. I believe your history is incorrect. According to my resources, Muhammad died from an illness after a Farewell pilgrimage . He did not die in battle. The Jews were a minority in Mecca/Medina during his time. Muhammad's main threat was paganism.

      I do not agree with your assumption that Christianity is superior; however, I don't wish to debate. Just honor your opinions.

      Blessings,

      -Jennifer B.

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  7. But there were wars in that time initiated by Christians, Muslims, Jews alike….all in the name of religion!! Maybe it was said that it was other reasons, but the Muslims and Jews are still fighting to this day. Christian behavior has changed, I agree, all to the glory of God and w/the immense help of our Mother.
    So now, are you going to respond to my comments, since I answered your questions?

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  8. That's not the point. I don't follow other Christians. I follow Christ. That's what all Christians get their name. Mohammad died in battle. That is their founder. They follow in his footsteps. I know this is hard for a Christian to understand. It's not hard for a Muslim to understand.

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    1. Precisely my point!! It is the point! Theoretically, your meditation would be true. All Christians should follow Christ, not other Christians. But that is not reality; it should be, but it is not. Isn’t that exactly the way Christ said we humans would win over people: showing them Christ in the flesh? Fundamentalist Christians killing Drs who perform abortions, Christians arguing w/o charity, you know the examples I am talking about. I do see that the more we talk about HOW Christians should handle other fundamentalists’ mentality (including those w/vulgar responses), the more we will show others what Christ would do: we cannot fight w/the same weapons they use.
      Also, I have met WD Mohammad, Imam from Chicago who passed away several years ago. He met John Paul the Great. JP2 gave WD his blessing in continuing to dialogue w/Catholics for a more united world. WD Mohammad ‘inherited’ the title of leader of the Black American Muslims after his father died. He parted ways w/the hatred side of Islam and embraced the golden rule side of Islam. Yes, there were those that followed Farrakhan, but we cannot generalize all Muslims. Ecumenism is working to build a more peaceful world. Is this a bad thing?
      We have discussed your viewpoints, but haven’t gotten to mine. Bummer.

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  9. PS. What wars were initiated by Christians?

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  10. Just check your sources. Then you should check with your professor. It is not argued anywhere that he was a soldier that fought in battle.

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  11. What source are you pulling from when you write that Muhammad "died while in battle. His troops were attacking a Jewish settlement"? I wouldn't go by what Wikipedia says... ;)

    I have the text right in front of me and it says Muhammad died from natural death in the arms of this wife Aisha. His death was not while in battle. (I never said he was a soldier.) A hadith stating that he was poisoned following attack on a Jewish settlement may not be true (and is not validated). I will check with my instructor. There's a lot conflicting information regarding Muhammad & Islam in general.

    Peace

    -Jennifer B.

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  12. History from the birth of Islam in the 600s, starting with the campaigns of Mohammed himself, and the existential threat it posed Christendom for the following millennium, can testify to some aggression in its ideology. Establishing an earthly kingdom of Islam (Dar-al-Islam) complete with kings, armies, and Sharia law isn't the will of some crazed fanatics or political opportunists; it is the primary means of conversion. I recommend a blog, http://www.rev-know-it-all.com/2012/2012---04-01.html, that discusses this history, and the many differences between Islam and Christianity, pretty well.

    That being said, that does not mean Christians had spotless consciences and turned the other cheek, nor did they refrain from taking a page from the book of Mohammed and heirs and use religion as a political tool. These people existed, but they were more the exception than the rule. Much more often, the church hampered the ambitions of leaders who sought to aggrandize their piece of land through military conquest. Thousands of years before the smug pacifists preached it with their car bumper stickers, it was the Church that called for coexistence. It was Christendom, not the Christian Empire.

    Although modern atheists have made it popular, it's a mistake to blame religion as a cause for conflict. In the case of Christianity it often stops, or at least contains the damages, of the countless conflicts that erupt from human civilization. When religion was taken out of the equation (like in Hitler's Germany, Mao's China, or Stalin's Russia), or when it was fused with the state (like with Islam or Rome), wars became much more destructive, and massacres much more common. If you want to preach peace, don't blame religion, blame politics. As Aristotle said, "Man is a political animal." Sometimes with the consent of others, many times without it, humans impose their will on others in a Darwinist fashion and tries to create his version of heaven because they don't acknowledge a higher authority than themselves.

    Our Lord is Truth. His teachings are truth. He is the Way, not one of many other acceptable ways. No one should apologize for this, or feel ashamed. We should feel humbled and joyful, and share this good news in a spirit of love.

    - Also, I looked up the matter of Mohammed's death. It seems debated whether he died from a fever after a pilgrimage, or by poisoning while besieging Khaibar, a Jewish settlement. It seems to be a matter of debate...

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    1. Terrific post, Anonymous! Thanks for the reference and sharing your point of view. :)

      -J.

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  13. Yes...a matter of debate...How interesting. We know that Christ died on a Cross. They don't know how Mohammad died? I wonder why? In the Middle East it is not a matter of debate. For Muslims, it is an honor to fight and die for God.
    I find nothing, absolutely nothing, remarkable or striking in a God that acts like a soldier. I do find something remarkable and surprising in a God that acts like a lamb.
    I have said this over and over again. Maybe I'm not saying it well. How can I say this: A good Christian is measured on how well he follows his founder. Understand? A good muslim is measured by how well he followers his founder. So far so good? I know that Christians throughout the centuries have acted in a way that is not very Christ-like. What is a radical Christian? A person who kills their enemy? No!!! Absolutely not!!! Then what is a radical Christian? Someone who dies for another, or someone who is willing to forgive their enemy. That's a radical Christian. We can say that because we know how Christ acted when confronted by his enemies. We know how Mohammad acted when confronted by his enemies. I find a God like a lamb much more appealing. Islam has been dominate in the Middle East for a very long time. Muslim leaders in the United States (and West) are considered irrelevant in the land of Mohammad. Their person and statements have little or no authority anywhere in the Muslim world.

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  14. My version: http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/4779/coexistence.jpg

    And, to repeat once again, amor vincit omnia!

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  15. The "Coexist" logo or symbol originated from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was created by the (Muslim led) Bosnian Government in the 90s during the war and genocide in Bosnia. It was a symbol created to counter the fascist ideology of the Serb-Christian Orthodox and Croat-Catholic politics.

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