Saturday, December 29, 2012

Love or Hate

Light and Darkness are central images in the readings during the Christmas season. In today's first reading St. John offers a simple binary choice. The one who loves walk in light; the one who hates walks in darkness. Sometimes it is helpful to be forced into these kinds of binary choices. We have all grown up hearing in church that we are to love everyone, including loving our enemies. But how far are we prepared to take this?
Can we love the men who killed in Connecticut or Upstate New York? The Spanish word for forgive is "disculpa." The root "culpa" means guilt or blame. To forgive literally means to take away (dis-) the blame(culpa). Jesus does this from the cross when he says, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
St. John did not understand modern psychology, but in the reading today hie goes on to talk about the effects of hatred, and the same can be said of anger which leads to hatred, "Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." Like Jesus, he attributes a kind of ignorance to the person. According to our theology, one who is ignorant cannot commit mortal sin. Moral sin require knowledge and full consent of the will.
This does not mean we do nothing. If we truly love others we keep them from harming themselves or others. What right thinking person would give a blind man a gun? And if we could, would we not do all that is possible to restore their sight.
What we do not do, at least if we follow the example of Jesus, is respond with anger and hate. In both recent cases these mentally ill men killed themselves as well. As we have prayed for the victims, have we gone the extra mile, and prayed for them as well. Can we find it in ourselves pray for them and all those who are blinded by hatred, anger, or mental illness?