I have been having and argument with myself all morning about self love and the impulse to fix systems. I want to change systems because I love others and I do not want those with power to continue hurting and being hurt. I see a practice that oppresses others or that is destroying or may destroy what I love, and I want it to end. “I do,” I protest to myself, “love others and that is my motivation!” And yet in pursuing my seemingly love-inspired political agenda, I fight, I create enemies, I become angry at the “stupidity, blindness and foolishness” of other, thus bringing the judgment of Matthew 5:22 on my head: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment…and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” Some pretty stiff words from our Lord and Master. At a loss for how best to love and participate in the political realities of church and state, I find the example of the biblical prophets helpful. The prophets speak the truth and bear the consequence of its acceptance or rejection. They don’t have an agenda, they have a burden. They carry this burden in their hearts and they speak when given the opportunity or when Spirit of God burns so hotly within them that they cannot but speak. And having delivered their burden, they return to their place of prayer; that is, they return if they are able. Often speaking the truth in love has some pretty uncomfortable consequences. But there is no war. It takes two to war. If the suffering servant does not fight back, there is no war. So therein lies a criterion. When promoting a seemingly just cause and my passions are stirred within me and the beginnings of war rumble in my heart, then I know, I still love myself best of all.
Dear Fr. Michael,
This line will stay with me, "They don't have an agenda, they have a burden." Thank you! I think that I have often mistaken my burning passions for the burning Spirit of God, or at least justified my actions that way. I don't think I ever returned to prayer or received my burden in prayer either. Another important challenge to the love of our own agendas.