Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Blind Man

"While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9: 5)

Short Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Lent (A)

Dhikr for the 4th Sunday of Lent (A): The Blind Man

Readings: I Samuel 16: 1. 6-7. 10-13; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41

Gospel Passage:  Then Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind." (John 9: 39)

Meditation:  Jesus Christ becomes the lens for seeing and not seeing… Through him we do see/not see the poor, the needy, and the injustice and the wrong against neighbors. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote about today’s Gospel: “The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9:35; 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light.”

Lent is a season for seeing…

Loving Others Is the Way to Peace!

Loving Others Is the Way to Peace!
“Let us be wary of mass solutions, let us be wary of statistics. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. To be sure, helping persons individually naturally implies that one cannot help them all, at least not directly.”

“There is perhaps no surer road to peace than the one that starts from little islands and oases of genuine kindness, island and oases constantly growing in number and being continually joined together until eventually they ring the world.”

“The union between two people who rediscover their dignity while working together to save a third, rids us of many of the barriers of prejudices, narrow-mindedness, and discrimination that poison human love and sap its strength. We must now have faith in the power of love and set it to work.”

(Fr. Dominique Pire, OP - 1958 Nobel Peace Laureate)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Substitutionary Prayer


Continuing to reflect on the call to “substitutionary prayer” we can follow Louis Massignon’s own suggestion to turn to Blessed Charles de Foucauld and Saint Francis for inspiration and enlightenment. At Tamanrasset in the southern Algerian desert Blessed de Foucauld realized that he needed to know and understand theTouareg people in order to truly live with them. In fact he wanted to assimilate himself into their way of life, in a sense to “become Touareg”. Not only did he allow himself to eat what those to whom he dedicated his life ate but he learned their language as intimately as they knew it, as well as their history, traditions, folklore, poetry and beliefs.”To make oneself understand is the beginning of everything, in order to do something good”, he wrote. “It isn’t enough to pray for the salvation of others, nor even to lovingingly give oneself to them, but to offer oneself body and soul for their souls”.

“This is how Foucauld saw the sacrifice of Jesus at Golgotha; Christ so loved humanity that he offered himself as a voluntary victim for the expiation of the sin of the world. “There is no greater proof of love than to give one’s life for those we love”, He told the apostles at the Last Supper. Substituting himself for humanity, past, present and future, He had reconciled them to God for eternity. Yet the Passion of Christ, the mystery of the economy of Salvation, consumed and carried out once and for all, will last until the end of human history. Thus, if we truly love, only one way offers itself to us: to participate in His redemptive work and accept the sacrifice of ourselves”.

“Brother Charles’ impeccable logic brought him to this conclusion before which all human reason either resists or gives way; Before God, Christians must substitute themselves for others and take the burden of their sin or their blindness onto their own shoulders in order to participate in the liberation of captive souls...”

Brother Charles’ writings are filled with the theology of his time and yet his message remains profoundly revolutionary.By choosing to live as he did he defined and witnessed to a new attitude for Christians in the world. He defined lay Christians as apostles of Christ and demonstrated how they were to be shining witnesses to the Gospel message. He was a pioneer who planted the seeds for a transformation of monastic life as well as lay participation, by remaining paradoxically entirely faithful to the tradition and the Gospel message.

It is clear that those who enter into the Badaliya prayer will be challenged by Brother Charles’ life and witness, and in creating this prayer in 1934 Louis Massignon was presenting a way to rise to that challenge. Our time and our world is both radically different and yet sadly the same. May these reflections serve to aid our prayer together and help us to open our hearts and minds to truly understand those of other faiths, traditions and cultures. May we be guided in planting our own seeds of hope in the world.

The first Friday falls on April 4th, for those who are joining in the day of fast and prayer for World Peace with the Union of Charles de Foucauld. This prayer Union of priests, religious, lay persons, men and women, married and single was envisioned by Brother Charles while he served His God in the desert of Algeria devoting his life to the Muslim Berber Tourareg people.

Peace to you.

Taken from Dorothy Buck's Letters

Badaliyya - Cotabato

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Subversive Stories of our Faith - Proclamation....

Subversive Stories in our faith proclamation…

In his booklet on the theology of story, John Dominic Crossan argued that, while a myth is a story that confirms the status quo and reconciles its apparent contradictions, a parable is a story that undermines the status quo and reveals its contradictions.

The subversiveness of a statement like: “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lk 14:11; 18:14; Mt 23:12), is brought home to us in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who go up to the temple to pray (Lk 18:9-14).

In Jesus’ time, the scribes and the Pharisees were held in high regard. With the chief priests and elders they were the religious leaders who knew what was pleasing to God and what was not pleasing to God. The tax collectors, on the other hand, were universally hated and treated as outcasts in that society. The tax system was grossly unjust. The poor were mercilessly bled by a triple tax: the Roman tax, Herod’s tax, and the temple tax. But it was those who were employed to collect the taxes who had to face the anger and rejection of the people. They no doubt often exploited the situation for their own benefit. Jesus, however, had some sympathy and understanding for these men who, like the prostitutes, always got the blame. Against everyone’s expectations he chose to stay at the house of Jericho’s infamous tax collector, Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10).

In the parable all expectations are reversed. The Pharisee, because he is proud and boastful, is not justified in the eyes of God: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.” The tax collector, on the other hand, because he humbles himself, is justified in the eyes of God.

While everyone assumed that religious leaders like the scribes and the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders, would be the first to be accepted into the kingdom of God, Jesus dared to stand up and say that the prostitutes and tax collectors would be entering God’s new world ahead of the religious leaders (Mt 21:3 1). That must have upset the assumptions of almost everyone, including the prostitutes and tax collectors themselves. “The first will be last and the last will be first” (Mk 10:31).

The story of the Samaritan who helps a robbed and injured Jew, while a Jewish priest and Levite walk by on the other side (Lk 10:30-37), subverts all the myths about Jews and Samaritans. Samaritans were thought to be half—pagan heretics. Jesus is saying to his fellow Jews not only that they should include the hated Samaritans in their love of neighbor but also that they might even learn something from a Samaritan about loving one’s neighbor.

To appreciate the impact this story must have had on Jesus’ contemporaries, we might retell it as the story of an injured Christian soldier who is helped by a Muslim fundamentalist while a Christian military chaplain and a Christian social worker walk by on the other side. Impossible? Why? The significance of Jesus’ parables even for today is that they shock us out of our prejudices.

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-16), Jesus turns the accepted understanding of justice upside down. When the employer pays those who worked in the vineyard for hour as much as he pays those who worked all day, is he guilty of an injustice? Jesus says no. The employer paid those who worked through the heat of the day the wage that was agreed upon. One denarius is in fact a very generous wage for a day’s work. When these workers complain, it is not because an injustice has been done to them; it is because the employer has been generous to others. In other words, it is not a matter of justice but of envy. The employer chose to pay those who worked for only a short time the same wage because their needs and the needs of their families would have been the same.

In the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32), the elder brother feels that he has been treated unjustly. He has always done what is right, so why should there be a celebration for his recklessly wasteful and depraved brother instead of himself? But, as Jesus sees it, the older brother has not been treated unjustly; he is simply jealous. He wants to be preferred. He wants his brother punished, not forgiven.

The whole Story of the Samaritan (Lk 10:30-37)
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)

I used the above as a lectio divina during the retreat of our postulants - March 2014

(Excerpt from Nolan, Albert. Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom. (New York: Double Storey Books, 2006.) pp. 47-62.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Prophets for our time... Are we listening...?

Prophets for Our Tme: Are We Listening?
by Dorothy C.Buck

When I think of Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Muhammad, the ancient Hebrew prophets, Abraham, Elijah, Moses then John the Baptist and Jesus, in fact the religious reformers and visionaries of all cultures and traditions in every age, one word overshadows all else. They knew how to listen, first to God, then to the voices of others in the world around them. As Christians we talk of God “calling”us into relationship, of the prophets being “called” to speak publically for God, to challenge and confront the ways that God's voice was not being heard. In the Gospel according to Matthew John the Baptist is heard quoting the major Hebrew prophet Isaiah:

“ Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! ...A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”(Matthew 3:2, Isaiah 40:3)
Unless we listen to the prophets among us we are likely to wander farther and farther away from the kingdom of God's love into a maze of tempting cultural values and materialistic idols. We hear competing voices inundating our TV programs enticing us with more and more “things”we must have and that we are told will make us “happy”. Even cigarettes and an SUV are claimed to fulfill our longings for love and companionship, and more and more credit debt is the capitalistic means of achieving the successful consumer lifestyle that feeds our economy, but not our souls.

We have ample voices throughout our short history as a country who have warned us of the dangers of not heeding the call of the poor, of not feeding the hungry, offering a drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and welcoming the strangers in our midst. Now we are challenged, almost beyond our capacity to respond, by the fear of terrorist attacks and the distrust and hatred felt towards this country in many parts of the world. Are we listening?

When Louis Massignon, the French scholar of Islam and a Catholic mystic started the Badaliya prayer movement in Cairo in 1934 with the Egyptian Melkite Christian, Mary Kahil, he was answering a call to a vocation grounded in love of God and love of others. As the Muslim Arabs became the majority in Egypt, Arab Christians were increasingly marginalized. While Mary Kahil devoted much of her life to both Muslim and Christian Arab women's rights she was also intent on maintaining the visibility and rich cultural heritage of Egyptian Christians in the midst of Islam. The word Badaliya in Arabic means to take the place of, instead of, or substitution, and the prayer is an offering of oneself to God for the well being of others. Louis Massignon invited Mary Kahil to join him in devoting their lives and their prayer to the Muslim people around them. He understood the Badaliya as a call to feeling the pain and suffering of others and joining their experience of it to the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of all humanity. They took these words of Jesus seriously, “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors”.(Matt.5:44) It is not easy to feel persecuted or marginalized and be willing to pray for those who persecute us let alone feel compassion and love for them.

The Badaliya movement became a means of “crossing over” to the other, of entering into the Muslim life and community in order to grow in understanding and mutual respect. Louis Massignon was a prophetic voice in his time whose embrace of arabic culture and Islam pointed to a means of interreligious understanding that went beyond dialogue to the essence of Christian love. It led to a Muslim-Christian shared prayer group that survived until 1979 and to an annual Muslim and Christian pilgrimage that continues to this day in Brittany, France. In 1948 when the modern state of Israel was in its infancy Louis Massignon was outspoken in his prophecy of disaster for the whole Middle East if the three religions of Abraham were not reconciled to living side by side in peaceful co-existence. The path towards a Palestinian crisis was already clear to him. Was anyone listening? On June 1, 1962, five months before his death, Massignon wrote:

“... We do not tire in repeating that it is necessary to pray together, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, for the advent of this so desired and waited for peace. Every tentative economic and even cultural agreement, if it is not founded on a sincere movement of hearts, united in faith in the God of Abraham, Father of believers, can only frighten the third world and be rejected...”

This letter was written 45 years ago. Christians are still being marginalized in Arab countries all over the world and there are communities of Egyptian,Palestinian, Iraqis, and other Arab Christians throughout the Middle East struggling to live together peacefully with their Muslim and Jewish neighbors.The prophets among them are the many grassroots groups working in mental health centers, parents circles, the Holy Land Trust in Israel, Christian Peacemakers Teams, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Families Forum and Rabbis for Human Rights, along with many other human rights organizations from all over the world. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?' Here I am, I said, send me!' (Isaiah 6:8-9)

An Iraqi friend of mine speaks of growing up in Baghdad very much the way a young married Muslim woman wrote in her weblog this past Christmas 2004: “Iraqis have strong bonds between them in spite of religion or ethnic differences, we all work together, have neighbors from other religions, visit each other and respect our differences. My neighbors are Shias, my best friends are Christians and Kurds, and I am Sunni, but we all have good relations between us. Christians celebrate Christmas with traditions very similar to our Eid (feast). Muslims and Christians visit each other in Eid (by the way the Christians call their Christmas Eid too).... They serve our traditional Kulaicha besides some pastries just like us. My daughter has her share of gifts for Christmas too, and she always asks me why Santa doesn't come to our house too? I don't know what to tell her so I usually say that Santa brings your gifts and puts them in our friends house so you can take them from there.” (Dec.22, 2004. www. rosebaghdad.blogspot.com) Are we listening to the prophets among us?

Here in the United States, in the spirit of Louis Massignon, we recreated the Badaliya prayer for our time two years ago. We are responding to a quite different challenge than he and Mary Kahil were in 1934 since we live in a predominantly Christian society and it is our Muslim neighbors who are a distinct minority. Ancient medieval prejudices and misconceptions still inform our unconscious responses to Muhammad and Islam and we can no longer afford to allow ourselves to remain ignorant of them. Giulio Basetti-Sani was an Italian Franciscan priest who met Louis Massignon in 1936 and continued to refer to him as a mentor until Massignon died in 1962. Basetti-Sani describes his own misconceptions of Islam at the time and realized how influenced he had been by the rhetoric of the medieval crusades of the popes and fears of later 17th century Christian writers. When he presented these views to Massignon the professor answered, ”The medieval Christian world taught that Muhammad was a messenger of Satan and that the Allah of the Qur'an was not the God of Abraham. We should not do to others what we would not have them do to us”.

Basetti-Sani writes,” Massignon had alerted me against an unjust condemnation of (Islam) that precluded any sincere and productive dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a mystery linked with the blessing obtained by Abraham from God for his son Ishmael and Ishmael's progeny. This line of thought, taken from the Bible, is the one to take in order to grasp the significance of Islam. Before we parted Massignon gave me two thoughts meant as guidelines in my reorientation. One was from Augustine, ' Love sees with new eyes', and the other was from John of the Cross, 'Where there is no love put love, and you will find Love Himself'. It was true: my eyes had seen badly...Later, when my eyes were to see clearly, I would discover in Islam and the Muslims the reflections of the infinite goodness of God”. (Basetti-Sani. 1977. “The Koran in the Light of Christ” Franciscan Herald Press IL pp..17-18)

The media coverage of Islamic fundamentalist and terrorist groups hardly helps us to overcome our misconceptions of Islam and the teachings found in the Qur'an. Yet, Muslims are very clear about the distortions of their religion and use of it for violent behavior and political purposes by fundamentalist groups. The meaning of the Arabic word, Islam tells us a great deal about those of this faith tradition. Islam means “submission” and comes from the root for the Arabic word for “peace”,  salaam. Muslim believers are called to submit themselves entirely to the will of God, Allah, and to find within that experience an abiding peace. For most Muslims Islam is both a religion and a way of life that leads to peace, mercy and forgiveness.

“It may be that Allah will grant love (and friendship) between you and those who you (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (Qur'an Sura 60:7)

”But if the enemy inclines towards peace, you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah for He is One who hears and knows (all things)”.(Qur'an Sura 8:61)

Are we listening to our Muslim neighbors, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Abraham? At a gathering of Muslims and Christians co-sponsored by the Islamic Council of New England, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and the Archdiocese of Boston recently there was a newspaper article distributed at the gathering. It is a description with interviews of the detention at the US and Canadian border of 40 Muslims returning to Buffalo from an Islamic conference in Toronto entitled, ”Reviving the Islamic Spirit”. Most of those stopped were American citizens and included everyone from the U.S.A. who attended the conference. They were stopped, fingerprinted and held for as long as six hours with no explanation. One 18-year-old student was singled out, searched, finger printed and questioned. He was forced to go along and when he refused he was told that he legally had no choice. He was initially told that his vehicle was being stopped as part of a random check but he noticed that everyone from the conference was being held. “We weren't treated as American citizens. We were treated as suspects”. Others described the incident as “an ordeal, embarrassing, dangerous and un-American, If objections are not raised, what’s going to happen in the future”? were some of the quotes. The article states, “the Toronto conference was open to the public and featured well-known and well-respected Muslim leaders, many of whom have had discussions with White House officials”.(paraphrased and quote from Buffalo News, Jan. 31,2005 by Jay Tokasz, staff reporter).

At the Boston gathering the discussion led to one prophetic voice from a Muslim living in the Boston area, “I came to this country seeking the safety of a country with laws that protect my right to live my faith as a Muslim and to escape living in fear every day. Now I feel fearful again”. Someone else asked that we ‘”Christians” stand with them as they fight against the religious and racial profiling that each of them has experienced after September 11th in the name of “homeland security”. Are we losing the very democratic ideals that are the foundation of this country in our fear of the strangers in our midst? Have we not yet heard this Gospel passage?

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me......Then the just will ask him: ....Lord, when did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness?....The king will answer them: “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me”. (Matthew 25:31-40)

Louis Massignon's experience of compassion was the ground for his spiritual life and a prophetic call for our time. In one of his letters to members of the Badaliya prayer movement he writes:
“As long as God leaves us absorbed in our own suffering we remain sterile, nailed to ourselves. As soon as compassion brings us beyond ourselves to another's suffering than our own, we enter into the science of compassion experientially, we discover wisdom in it. In the immortal company of all creatures purified by angelic and human trial we glimpse the joy of tomorrow through the pain of today.
Our desire, Christ's desire, for substitution,“badaliya”, for the most unfortunate, for the abandoned, for our “enemies”, make us little by little guess the secret of history, which belongs, Léon Bloy said, to the souls of compassion and pain; and it is through “substitution” that they decipher it, by achieving it”. (Letter #1 1947 )

The Badaliya prayer led Massignon to more and more social action as he responded to the injustices in his country and in the world in his time. He remains a prophetic voice as we continue to face many of the same injustices that he describes so passionately in his letters. Isn't our Lenten fasting, prayer and almsgiving ultimately meant to draw us ever closer to the mind and heart of God, to the fulness of life in God? And doesn't that lead us to greater and greater compassion, hospitality and to the heart of non-violence and love? In 1957 Massignon wrote:

“In its edition last August 9th, ‘the Commonweal', the New York Catholic weekly,
completed an article in which the Badaliya was urged to hold firm to its program of non-violent action, in saying," (the Badaliya) remembers that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit injustice, and that is the test which, to a Muslim ("one who has surrendered to God")proves that he is a Muslim. And for us, as St. Augustine pointed out, it is the test of a Christian". (LM Convocation #11)

Thich Nhat Hanh poignantly captures the essence of the Badaliya prayer movement for our time. There are many prophetic voices to guide us. May we always listen to them:

“If any accident happens to one member of our family, the whole family suffers. When an accident happens to a part of our nation, it happens to the whole nation. When an accident happens to a part of the planet Earth it happens to the whole planet, and together we bear it. When we see that their suffering is our own suffering, and their death is our death, we have begun to see the no-self nature.....Whenever we love, we see that the person we love is ourselves; and if our loved one dies, we also die. Although we are sitting here, and we have the impression that we are alive, in fact we have also died. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.....The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. We have to see that and wake up”.

(part of a response to the recent devastating earthquake in Asia on Dec. 26,2004, the Tsunami, by the Vietnamese Buddhist --Thich Nhat Hanh)

Saturday, March 01, 2014

The NEWNESS in Christ's Message...

The Newness in Christ’s Message…

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. (Matthew 5: 38-42)

·       No resistance to one who is evil…
·       Turning the other cheek…
·       Handing over your cloak, as well…
·       Going the extra mile…
·       Not turning of one’s back from the needy…

Are these the values we live by…?

Bapa Jun
March 1, 2014