Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Agony in the Garden and True Submission to God

May God bless the most holy rosary; it leads me daily to greater love for Christ.

I was praying with the Mystery of the Agony in the Garden. This mystery has always led me deeper in my love for Christ. It is at once a human and divine moment; and in a way our Lords' most human moment.

He is suffering deep within His soul. He knows what His Father wills, but does not wish it. In a real way there is a moment of fear, a struggle with the acceptance of His Fathers' will. A great pain and an inward battle make the savior of the world to sweat blood.

He will miss his friends, His family and life itself. He knows that there will be a Resurrection. And still, the suffering that is to come is unwanted. He asks for the cup to pass from Him. But in the end He says, with all sincerity and love, "Not my will, but yours be done." It is true submission to the will of God. It is a moment where we are shown how to deal with our own suffering as a human being.

It is a lesson that in these last few weeks is very relevant to the world.

'Islam means “Peace” and "submission". It comes from the term 'aslama, which means "to surrender, resign oneself." In Islam, the fundamental duty of each member is to submit to Allah (Arabic for "the God") and whatever Allah wants of them. A person who follows Islam is called a Muslim, and this means "one who surrenders to God."

But what I've seen is people taking upon themselves Gods' tasks. It is not the given to mankind to kill for God. It is not given to humanity to smite nations in Gods' name. God does that, He has done that Himself and does not call upon us to do it. If we raise our hands it should be in the defense of the oppressed.

This does not mean we do not defend the weak. We are not idle bystanders in the story of salvation. Social Justice is a concern for us all. To uplift the weak and the suffering is the duty of all people. We are called to defend the name of God in peace. We are called to raise our hands in the defense of our brothers and sisters. If God wishes to punish a nation for blasphemy, He has proven He will.

There are principles for a just war in the Catholic faith:

1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

3. there must be serious prospects of success;

4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition" [CCC 2309].

None of them say to fight to protect God. It is all to protect each other.

We are told:

To instruct the ignorant
To counsel the doubtful
To admonish sinners
To bear wrongs patiently
To forgive offences willingly
To comfort the afflicted
To pray for the living and the dead

We are told:

To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;
To visit the sick;
To visit the imprisoned
To bury the dead.

And whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we do that to Christ.

But fundamentalist Islam does not submit to God, they try to usurp the authority of God. To defend God, we defend each other. To offend God, we kill each other. They oppress others and claim the rights and duties of the creator.

To submit to God we submit to the service and defense of each other. We submit to our suffering in the certainty that God has a plan and all things are part of it. We accept that even as we suffer, God will turn it to good.

When I was 10 my mother died. She suffered for a long time with cancer. I can honestly not remember a time when she was not sick. I asked her once why God would do this. She told me that her faith in God was not shaken by the suffering. God did not send suffering, but He turned it to good. And that if she had to suffer so that another person, who would lose faith would not, she accepted that.

That is submission to God.

Mother Theresa said:

Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.

To kill in the name of God while oppressing others is to believe in your own weakness. It is an effort to earn salvation through the blood of others rather than through the Love of God. It is submission to fear.


Bent El Neel said...

God bless you! This has to be truly one of the best blogs I have ever read.

Over 15 years ago, I read the account of a man's conversion to Christianity from Islam in Egypt. He used to be a staunch opponent to Christ and His church. He cites the main reason for his contemplating to learn more about Jesus a conversation he had with his pharmacist!

The conversation took place around the time gangs of Muslim youth attacked churches, businesses and homes of Copts living in El Zawya El Hamra. So much Coptic blood was shed then. This man asked the pharmacist:
"Why is it you Christians are always smiling even when they're killing your people and burning your churches? Don't you ever feel you want to fight back?"

She answered:
"No sir! Christians don't need to physically fight anyone to defend their faith. We are taught to love our enemy. Besides,our God is strong enough to protect His church."
It was that last comment that opened his mind and heart. He realised that this is a faith where you can really "surrender" to God and let Him work through you.

I congratulate you again David on a wonderful post. Keep up the good work and may God bless you and your family.

DavidNic said...

Thank you for your kind words. It is true, to surrender to God opens you to doing things for other people. It reminds me of when my brother died. My sister was talking to one of his little daughters and said that when our mom had died she was mad at God.

Our niece said, "Is it right to be mad at God?"

My sister said, "God understands, and He is big enough to handle it until you feel better."

In our weakness we are loved. And in love there is strength. I am always amazed by God's ability to turn suffering into someting that makes us stronger as long as we work with Him.

God bless you and your family as well.