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Wouldest thou learn thy Lord's meaning in this thing?

Ordinary Sunday 25: 22nd September, 2002
Fr Ted Cosens, Associate Priest, St Peter's, Eastern Hill

The well-known Spielberg film 'Back to the Future', starring Michael J Fox, has a very important title:

  • important theologically;
  • important during this time of the 'pre-battle twilight'.

In all of the international posturing concerning Iraq and Saddam Hussein, nearly everyone is focussing on the wrong war criminals! The unresolved debacle of Israel and the Arab Palestinians was the trigger that Osama bin Laden fired with such vengence against the heart of New York and Washington. Bin Laden, Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon – all should stand before the International War Criminal Court in the Hague – and be made to account to the world for their actions, or inactions, that have resulted in death and despair for thousands of others.

In Australia, we have to remind ourselves that "Yes", we are an Asia/Pacific rim country, but also, as the second wave of immigration, that our historic roots are in a European version of 'Western civilization'. Western civilization is like a form of stranded rope:

  • Judaeo-Christian religion;
  • Roman law;
  • Greek thinking/philosophy.

We often take our inherited culture for granted, some for their own reasons would wish to deny it. Others, again for their own reasons, would like to discalim our geographic location. Bin Laden's greivance of the unresolved Arab-Jewish problem must not be simplified by declaring that the problem is religious. For that merely demonises all from the Muslim or Jewish faiths.

As Christians, we have been influenced and birthed from both the Old Testament and God's News from the New Testament. Indeed, Christians have much to discover from the Muslim faith and practice – both are very similar to aspects of our own faith. But Jews, Christians and Moslems are not the same.

We thank the Irish Christians for saving 'civilization' during the dark ages, while we should also be thanking the Arab-Moslem scholars that sowed the seeds of Renaissance in the minds of the Christian scholars. Indeed, according to Carl Sagan, had Constantinople fallen to the Arabs, we would now be travelling to the stars!

At the very core of our Christian faith are the following actions:

  • undeserved love by God to each one of us;
  • undeserved compassion by God;
  • undeserved care; and
  • undeserved forgiveness that is offered by Christ to the world, and to us, on our Good Friday Cross.

The mystics and saints of the Christian church experienced, and had their lives changed by, God's supreme and undeserved love. In the West, we must follow in the steps of Archbishop Rowan Williams, and rediscover the actions of Christ seen through the eyes of Eastern orthodoxy. We must begin to learn and understand the awful events of Holy Week, Good Friday and the Easter empty tomb as part of the Royal and Divine drama.

If the awful events of last September in the USA should effect one change in our attitude, it should be to stop arguing with God – with the Boss, by continually carping "Why me, Boss?". Rather, we should ask the basic, and more difficult question: "What are you saying, Boss?"

Since last September, is Christ saying to the world – the only true, God-like path is the path of Peace and Reconciliation. This path is more costly than war, demands more from each one of us. Demands that we, as western civilization, as Christian church, as nation, and as individuals, we start by saying "Sorry."

Listen to the clear words of an English mystic, St Julian of Norwich, ringing out, clear and true down the centuries like a lone bell through a frosty morning:

Wouldest thou learn thy Lord's meaning in this thing?
Learn it well.
How was his meaning,
Who showed it thee? Love.
What showed He thee? Wherefore showed it He?
For Love.
Hold thou therein and thou shalt learn and know more in the same.

Then said our good Lord Jesus Christ;
'Art thou well pleased that I suffered for thee?'
And I said; 'Yea, good Lord; I thank Thee. Yea, good Lord;
Blessed mayest Thou be.'
Then said Jesus, our kind Lord;
If thou art pleased, it is a joy, a bliss, an endless satisfying to me that I suffered Passion for thee,
and if I might suffer more, I would suffer more.

Come, then with joy in your hearts – to meet and greet the Risen Lord:

  • to share His words;
  • to share in God's Life;
  • to share in God's Love;
  • to share in God's Compassion;
  • and to share in God's Forgiveness.



Topical Articles

 Ministerial Priesthood
 Lay presidency
 Catholic Anglicanism
 Women bishops

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