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Archive for March 28th, 2020

“ O unenlightened creatures, how deep – the ignorance that hampers you! … Who made the heavens and who gave them guides was He whose wisdom transcends everything…” Dante’s Inferno, Canto 7

Today I was visited by disciples of a local Baptist community. They were in full proselytizing mode: quick with scriptures to quote and numerous questions to ask designed to find the fatal flaws in my own understanding. Their command of memorized scripture was certainly impressive and I welcomed them and their ministry.

Greeting them as brothers in Christ, I gave them time to share their views. I explained that I was a Franciscan. This was of no interest. What mattered most to them was to stay on script. It was rather amusing if annoying.

Expressing my faith in the Light of the World was clearly not enough. In any event, I must have “failed” their test. They turned away tossing off a quote from Galatians.

I wished them well and the blessings of Easter. They walked off without a smile or a reply of any kind. It was cold and dismissive.

This was nothing new as I’ve had many past interactions with fundamentalists that go more or less the same way. But, this moment stood out. What was striking was the almost complete absence of kindness and warmth. This stands in sharp contrast to my experience of a neighbor’s kindness in stopping his car yesterday to ask if we needed anything from the local store.

With whom would Jesus choose to spend time: my neighbor or the self-important evangelists?

Men and women of a hollow faith that is actually ideology are legion. They use their espoused faith as a shield against genuine caring and wrap their fears of the other in evangelical fervor. It is a reminder of the importance of discernment of the spirits in our age of unthinking consumerism amidst the hungry peddlers of formulaic religion.

It is not the words and the doctrinal formula that are the signs of a true woman and man of faith, but the capacity for genuine compassion, unfeigned empathy and loving regard. These are the signposts of a true disciple of the One Light that shines through many faiths albeit adorned in different metaphors and narratives.

The morning encounter was good food for thought and rich stimulus for prayer in this time of global pandemic and exposure of the truth of just how fragile and vulnerable we are. It makes clear our desperate need of true community: our need of one another as Brothers and Sisters of the One Light.

May we be blessed with hearts of authentic caring for one another in these fearsome times.

Peace & Blessings.

© The Harried Mystic, 2020 and Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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