Friday evening I stared at the television with surprise, fear, disgust, sadness, and anger. To say the least, my emotions were on high alert as I watched the slaughter in Paris unfold. In the age of televised terror, we find ourselves wondering about the more. We wonder what more can happen and we are told there is more to come. We can't help but wonder about the more when innocent people are murdered by radicalized fanatics who cry out Allahu Akbar; Allah is greater!
On social media, I quickly read how some commenters blame religion for this type of evil. As a "man of the cloth," I reject this call to quick judgement of religion, but I do sympathize with the belief that religious people can perform evil acts.
William James was a brilliant writer and teacher. I studied his work The Varieties of Religious Experience at various stages of my academic life. One notion of James' that has stayed with me is his belief that the religious experience with the More leads to the choice to promote safe and loving relationships with other people. In my words, true experience with the Divine, the More, is reflected in Jesus' teachings that addressed a squabble between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Both Pharisees and Sadducees thought their understanding of God was greater than the other's. They attempted to trap Jesus theologically by asking him which commandment was the greatest. Jesus said "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul....and love your neighbor as yourself!"
In the gospel of John, Jesus says this to his disciples: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command." John 15: 12-14.
I believe that Jesus' life and teachings are the true path to the More of life; our gospel truth.
Prayer for Today
Redeeming God, we pray lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil whenever we pray our Lord's Prayer. Hear our fervent prayer that in times like these, the world will know us by how we love one another and witness Christ's lordship and his good news. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.