Our Greatest Battle

The greatest tragedy in human history is how our history has always been punctuated by wars and violence. The US, as a nation, has fought a major war in every generation since its founding. War and violence happens when we inflict our weaknesses on others in the guise of strength; when we impose our pride and selfishness on others in the name of righteousness or self-preservation; when we exploit others and call it development. But the greatest battle we must wage is the battle against our own self. When we shall have vanquished our pride, selfishness, greed, rapacity; only then will we be able to banish wars and violence. Whenever I choose to give and do give, whenever I chose to trust and do trust, whenever I chose to love and forgive and do love and forgive; I am proclaiming the possibility that we can all live in love and peace. My efforts may look puny and miniscule in the face of the enormity of our problems but even tiny droplets of water eventually can crack the mightiest of rocks.

I recall the wise advice of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises: Agere contra – to do against. My natural tendency is just to give in to what comes naturally, to take the easy way, to avoid hardships and difficulties. But it is precisely in denying ourselves that we realize we have a lot lot to give others; that in denying ourselves fleeting pleasures that we are freed to love and forgive others; that it is the straining and doing violence to our muscles in exercise that we strengthen them.

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!’ Matthew 11:11-15

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