Facebook brings us many people talking about and linking to many things, not all of them just, kind, or beautiful. Today, my feed had lots of anxious angry frustrated and irritated posts. I suppose I could have closed my computer, but the theme indicated a serious lack of charity, one which I know as Catholics, we are called to exercise, even while speaking truth.
One was an angry screed of outrage at the callus laughter of those who beat a man, as the description of his beating and injuries were discussed in court. The poster called the laughing beater \”not human.\”
Another posted smugly about her politics, and how uneducated the other side stubbornly remains for daring to think otherwise.
I received an email demanding I stand up against my own Church because it does not sanction what the world has decided must be.
In every case, and I saw people rallying to the other side, people assemble on the internet in camps of left and right, Republican and Democrat, White and Black, Christian and non-Christian, those in favor and those who oppose the redefinition of marriage as recognized by the state. In every place, I saw people declare the other side, \”not human.\” Or less worthy human. Or even worthless. They all held their stones, picked up in the security and certainty of their own virtue, understanding and capacity to render verdict and sentence.
All matter of civility and principles, manners and charity were exchanged for vitriol, \”I\’m right, you\’re a dunderhead.\” But in less gentle terms. Everyone everywhere felt entitled, justified to hold onto the hurt, to prepare to cast stones.
All I could think over and over again is Human. All too Human. Human. Human. Human. The woman facing the charge of adultery, she did it, she remains human. The men holding the stones, prepared to carry out the sentence, they wanted to stone her. In both cases, Jesus spared the woman and the men, the cost of the sins they\’d committed or were about to commit, and those they\’d kept in their hearts. Jesus valued the souls of each of them, those that hungered for the thrill of being self righteous and killing in the name of the law, and those who broke trusts between husband and wife. He saw all of them as human, human, human, and He took the moment to show us how to be more fully human. The message Christ gives us over and over again is to love one another, be merciful, forgive 70 times 7, peace be with you, love as God loves, to the end, without counting the cost, pour everything out.
And yet, we keep discarding that belief in others and presuming to keep it for ourselves. Even if what they did was wrong, callus and horrific, they remain human, like all of us, human, broken, sinful, wrong, capable of great wrong, and still, human. One does not lose humanity by daring to think differently, or by opposing what is popular, or by being flawed, or being old, or being young, or being unborn, or by having failed mightily, or by having engaged even in great evil. Even the abortionist, even the pedophile, even the terrorist, remains human. Nothing divorces our souls from being souls. But we are broken, so we spend tremendous energy trying to assert that everyone else around us is more fallen than us in an attempt to build our own case for mercy. Justice for everyone else, mercy for me. The reality, is we should seek mercy for all, and beg it most for ourselves.
Praying and even loving our enemies, foreign and domestic, political and social, is a direct command from Christ, a direct instruction on how to turn the other cheek. Hate can only be diffused by love. Christ willed himself to stay on that cross to the end, until the last drop fell, until He knew he could say, \”It is finished.\” Because of love, He didn\’t hold onto the hurt, He held onto the nails. He could have come down from that cross, but He didn\’t, because He held onto those nails for our sake.
And then I went to a blog where a mother journals her struggle to care for a child with a condition that fused her fingers into mittens, and her cranial plates, and I can see from her pictures, from her writing, this is a family that has embraced their daughter and seeks to love her as fiercely and as perfectly as possible. The child is a cornerstone of their family.
And I know, this is what we are called to be, to be fully human. All made in the image of God, and beloved by God and made to love as God loves, even those we see not doing their part, not seemingly worthy or educated enough or polished enough or beautiful enough, still supposed to be beloved by us. Human. Human. Human.
So when you\’re browsing the internet today, and someone post something about how all people who hold to this position are idiots, or
\”Like\” if you think people of this political party should be treated with contempt in all circumstances, remember these people too, are made in the likeness of God, to be loved as we would seek to be loved. And hold onto those nails. Hold onto the words, \”Father Forgive them, for they know not, what they do.\” It is the only way to remind the world, of how it was truly intended to be.
Photography: See our Photographers page.