Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On not becoming evil...

So we will pose the great spiritual problem in this way, "How do I stand against hate without becoming hate myself?"

We would all agree that evil is to be rejected and overcome; the only question is, how? How can we stand against evil without becoming a mirror - but denied - image of the same? That is often the heart of the matter, and in my experience is resolved successfully by a very small portion of people, even though it is quite clearly resolved in the life, death and teaching of Jesus.

Jesus gives us a totally different way of dealing with evil - absorbing it in God (which is the real meaning of the suffering body of Jesus) instead of attacking it outside and in others. It is undoubtedly the most counter-intuitive theme of the entire Bible.  It demands real enlightenment and conversion for almost all of us.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 143, 145

Our default understanding seems to be more like that of the Star Wars universe than Christ's. I can only assume that this has to do with the Fall, described in Genesis 3 as Eve's and Adam's eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We can see this in operation in every war fought across the earth at any point in history, especially in the so-called "just wars". I am not meaning necessarily to criticise here the theory of jus ad bellum: I am merely pointing out that however good the reasons for going to war, however noble and necessary the aims, jus in bello never works. As we saw tragically in the second Gulf War, those on the side of good become evil in order to combat evil, just as Rohr describes.

The Cross is both the symbol and the means of the final defeat of evil. Only on the Cross can we see evil for what it truly is, on the Cross of Christ and on the countless crosses carried, knowingly or unknowingly, by all mortal life. It is only through the Cross that all suffering finally is redeemed (Romans 5 passim; 8.18ff) and it is only in Christ that the dark side is finally overcome (John 1.1-5) Easter is not a festival with bunnies; it is not even just a Christian festival. It is a cosmic event on a par with creation itself - the healing of all that is broken (Revelation 21.1-5) and wrong, the making of all things new again, the Kingdom come, shalom at last...  

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