A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The roots of conflict

We seem immersed in conflict nowadays: among political parties, nations and even communities of faith.

Each of today's readings speaks to the roots of these conflicts and to each one of us: not just as nations or organizations, but as individuals - beginning most explicitly with the second reading (James 3:16-4:3):

Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?

Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?

You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.

You do not possess
because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive,
because you ask wrongly,
to spend it on your passions.

Envy also figures prominently in today's Gospel (Mark 9:30-37) in which the disciples argue about who the greatest among them might be.

In the first reading (from Wisdom 2), conflict arises from wicked people perceiving moral people as obstacles to their desires.

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us
and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.

We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.

(Indeed, we seem to see this kind of resentment and motive for conflict more and more in the world today, as people of faith come under attack by "worldly" people.)

Returning to the second reading, we see both the summation of all of these motives for conflict and also the solution.

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.

But the wisdom from above
is first of all pure,
then peaceable,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.

And the fruit of righteousness
is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

We help to cultivate peace by following Christ, especially (as he says in today's Gospel) through humble service and openness to those who are humble.

"If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."
Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name,
receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me."

In the midst of conflict and selfishness, may you and I always be faithful Christians and people of service, in humility and holiness, by the grace of Christ, all the days of our life.