So I’ve been thinking about responding with Love. It was a conversation going on in my writer’s group for a while. Things are mighty conflictual these days, despite all the claims for tolerance and stuff.
Saying it isn’t the same thing as having it.
I think game theory holds some answers. I know it sounds like an unsatisfactorily mechanical response but it is merely a mathematical model for what suits the cooperation instinct in man.
The trouble is, we can’t dictate responses of either the media or our loved ones when we practice love. That’s a part of why it is called a cross. Because you don’t know what you are going to get. All you can do is direct how you will accept the consequences. And know that often, when you act out of love, those you face will not recognise love, because they do not know love, but a kind of charade for the transaction of wants.
We cannot even gage how they will respond, even to perfect love. Jesus tells us, “Do not lament if they hate you, for they hated Me first.” Just as the man who serves two masters, those who do not hold unity in their hearts are pulled eternally between the poles of adoration and loathing– toward any potential source of light. There are some good quotes for this in Lumen Fidei about this, FYI. Pope Francis is not surprised.
Considering that guy on the Cross was supposed to be our representative of how man reacts to perfect Love…
So often, those who loathe the church have to change a few words here or there to make us absolute villains. They cannot simply hate what is. Hate is more sustaining for a deceitful action than love, hence we see this played out for hundreds of years. The same old lies are breathed on and given new life, after other lies are revealed for their paltry reflection of reality. This pattern is observable since Christ. But we must remember they have two settings, hate and love.
Look at poor pope Francis, as inviting as it is, everyone within squeeing distance sees him as approving. IF there is insufficient evidence for their lauds, they manufacture some. That’s not actually what Pope Francis is doing, but so many will interpret to get what they want. They cannot be neutral. That’s how the news cycle works, after all. No one pays any attention unless it tugs on the short hairs– one way or the other.
The irony of all this is that there are things that he is doing, and has done, that is worthy of laud, but it is twisted or changed, instead of seeing the thing itself. It is like they cannot love him for who he is, but who they have made him.
How long will this cheating ‘love’ work for them? Well… I can’t answer that precisely. Suffice to say, in the world, things must change if there is no perfection. The bigger the disconnect, the flimsier the mirage. Desperation can cause it to linger, but things will change, and it probably won’t take long. The betrayal of love is hate, thus the cycle begins again.
Two hearts cannot meet unless they set what aside what separates them. The Law of Christ puts as little between the lover and the beloved as possible. The trouble is, our modern culture has manufactured specific roadblocks to separate the brethren from the love of their kin. They want to replace love with state sponsored acceptance– a kind of mindless adulation that focuses on appearances and the glory of stereotypes. In there, there is no room for familial love, for friendship, or for mere tolerance. They will change the meaning of the word if it is necessary to destroy it.
So how, in the face of this can you respond with love? The falsehood, the anger, the disagreements you can’t even counter because the truth isn’t even represented. That is when you take a step back, walk to a quiet place that is alone (rooms with doors, or abandoned mountain retreats are recommended, what is available to you may vary) and you pray. Meditate on what Jesus has done, and what He endured for it. More courage and fortitude come from the same fountain.
Even if you are not a theist, quiet meditation is still key. The most freeing part of it is when you know what you can expect, and know that they cannot control your reaction. Do not shy away from what you feel. But you don’t need to express it– loudly and directly as an immediate reaction. Accept your feelings, accept that this person acts the way that they do. The only real judge of who you are is how you act in the face of it.
But this is not just an act in reaction to a moment. It is a practice that one must have already, so that you can hold that quiet reflection in your heart– even in the heat of the moment.
Until then, it is good to remember that, at the end of endurance, even Jesus recommends that you shake the dust off your feet and walk away.