October 25, 2012:
Daniel's previous reflections
and Held Captives
In the world where the economy has taken a leading role in shaping how we think and make decisions on the domestic and international level, it is difficult to inject some theological discussion about God and His role in the affairs of the world.
In the world where money is the main concern of people and nations, it is almost impossible to point to God who has a different set of values. We are left without prophets who could tell us what are the demands of God and our priests and pastors are not qualified to prophesy.
Thus, we walk in darkness, confused about the direction our life should take. Replacing theology with economy and shifting our concern away from God and His Word, has brought our world to the brink of tragedy of an epic proportion.
Financial crisis as the result of greed, ecological crisis as the result of our expensive living, wars as the outcome of our thirst for control and power, to name but just a few concrete examples of this evolving tragedy. We are not even sure whether our children will still be able to see the beauty of this world.
Yet nobody turns to God in this time of crisis, nobody dares to say that it is the result of our corrupted nature stained by sin that is directly responsible for the mess we are all in right now; nobody dares to say that it us, who thought of replacing God, who brought this beautiful world to the present crisis.
there is still time to avoid its most tragic consequences, but it will require a
change in our way of thinking and our set of values. We will have to recover the
meaning of such unpopular words like "sin" and "repentance",
and we will have to acknowledge our transient and finite nature in front of the
unfathomed mystery of God.
" A voice says, "Cry!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand
forever." (Isaiah 40:6-8)
In front of the mystery of God, in front of the greatness of the Universe, we are "grass". It is time to realize that the span of our lives is less than a century.
Why, then, are we wasting this short time in pursuing goals that are trivial or destructive? Why do we take so much pleasure in the search for worldly riches and in waging wars against others? Why do we always want to be better than others, more powerful than others, richer than others?
we are corrupted creatures. There is a wound inside us that never heals; there
is a stain on our nature that never gets clean. We call it Sin. It forces us to
do the things we do not really want to do; it leads us in a direction that we do
not really want to go. It has control over us. It shapes the way we think and
act. It blinds us in such a way that we are able to take bad for good and
darkness for light. Sin accounts for our acts of violence and greed. Sin makes
us think that we can be equal to God, therefore we do not need God in our lives.
It accounts for our unreasonable way of thinking and acting. It makes us
dangerous to others and ourselves.
I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a]
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do
not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do; this I keep on
doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it
is sin living in me that does it.
I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with
me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work
in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law
of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this
body that is subject to death?" (Romans 7:18-24).
To realize that each one of us is held captive by Sin is the first step towards our personal and communitarian freedom. If each one of us can become free, then the entire communities will become free as well.
But, to realize that we are held captive should be done together with a realization that we cannot free ourselves from this captivity. Our culture proclaims a belief that we can do all we desire. That is a lie perpetrated by Sin itself.
has created an illusion that we are free and good and wonderful, and the best
creatures in the entire universe. The truth is that we are held captives and
unable to set ourselves free. However, the majority of us do not want to realize
this sad truth. The majority think that life, with greed, violence, and
injustice as its common values, is something normal in this world. They do not
pause to think whether there could be an alternative to such a world.
If we would be able to realize our true condition, then we could begin to dream about being free. Since we do not know what it means, we can only have a vague thoughts about what being free means. Yet, we can sense that it has to be wonderful experience.
We hear from time to time about those who got liberated. We hear that they became different: they think and act differently. So, we would like to join their ranks and become free as well. Realization of one's own tiredness of being slaves to Sin is the moment when freedom comes.
When God sees us being "sick" of slaving under the power of Sin, He sends the Savior. "Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25). Yes. The Savior is Jesus, the Christ. Only in Him, can we see how Sin can blind us to the point of destroying an innocent life.
Only in Him, we can see how timid we all are in front of the overwhelming power of an empire. Only in Him, can we see how God says "No" to our culture of violence, injustice, and greed.
by meditating upon the mystery of the Cross, can we be healed from our wound and
cleansed from our stain. Only by meditating upon the mystery of the Crucified,
can we be led into the land of true freedom, where sharing and caring are the
practical expressions of LOVE.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:7-8). Only those who are able to share and care are truly free.