Monday, February 17, 2003

Thanks Padre I Needed That

Last week was a not a high point for morale in the war with the country on a high state of terror alert, the advisement to use duct tape and plastic sheeting to protect us from chemical/biological attack, and finally the shenanigans at NATO and the UN. Friday was especially sour with the shameful run around at the Security Council engineered by France and seemingly endorsed by a majority of the members. The progress made in the previous weeks towards concrete action in Iraq seemed a thing of the past and prospects of it falling apart were all too real. Saturday brought large anti-war demonstrations across the world which only deepened my feeling that perhaps the momentum had been lost for good and I feared the consequences that might result.

So when I went to church on Sunday morning I was in need of a injection of confidence and an affirmation of hope. Fortunately my priest delivered exactly that.

His homily began with a comparison of the leprosy of the day's Gospel reading with AIDs of today and a call to do as Jesus as had done (he pointed out that instead of asking "What would Jesus do?" in hypothetical situations we instead should ask "What did Jesus do?") and reach out to those who suffered its afflictions. Hardly a revolutionary insight on the matter but I was impressed when he acknowledged that some of the people who have AIDs may have contracted it by engaging in behavior that we would not necessarily approve of but yet it still is our calling to aid them. Instead of passing over that reality he addressed it head on.

He then mentioned that he had a few minutes left and wanted to digress onto another subject. He spoke of the possibility of war with Iraq and stated that we were now in a troubled time and that it was very likely that further calamities would occur in the near future. But he said that we had been through worse and that we would emerge from this as well. He said it was a critical time to trust in God and that we must worship and pray with more passion and persistence than in more "normal" times. It reminded me of how some have said that they have felt more alive since 9/11 and take a greater enjoyment out of life realizing just how fragile it is. I found it reassuring that he was honest enough to say, in so many words, that the shiite might the fan but that we had the strength (with God) to get through it.

Now he's by no means a fool and he wasn't about to clearly state his position on war with Iraq knowing that whatever he said would alienate a large portion of the parish. But knowing where he comes from on other issues and reading between the lines I gather that he is in favor of it. He spoke of how he studied the requirements of just war and had been trying to explain them to his peers. I took that as meaning "trying to convince them that this was a just war". In order to understand the Pope's opposition to the war he said that we should realize that most of the people at the Vatican were European and after what Europe had been through in the last century they were opposed to war under almost any circumstances. Of course he's not going to come out say that the Pope is wrong. The message was subtle but unmistakable.

And for me just what I needed at that time.

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