I recall a mental exercise we had with Fr. Decaestecker in our Metaphysics class.
If I had just one arm and one foot, would I still be a human being? Yes, for these missing extremities do not define my essence although they are part of my experience and existence. If I were missing a vital organ, would I still be a human being? Yes, medicine can keep me alive in existence even without these organs but they still do not define who I am (essence)? In the same manner, my shape and form are part of my existence but not essential to it. For the form I come in does not define the substance of who or what I am.
Extrapolating, can I live and be without the material possessions I have today? Yes, for I have lived for years with but a fraction of what I have today. Can I survive without the modern conveniences I enjoy today? Yes, for I came from an age when these gadgets I routinely use today were stuff from the most far out science fiction. Yes, I can live without a lot of what I take for granted these days.
Extrapolating still, can I imagine a world where people seek not revenge but gladly forgive those who offend them? Yes, I have met a man who said to love my enemies and He lived out His words. Can I imagine a world where no one goes hungry because people share what they have? Yes, I have seen people inspired by this man to love and serve their fellowmen. Can I imagine a world where strangers are welcomed and everyone is received as a brother or a sister? Yes, for I have been part of a community that includes everyone and welcomes all specially the poor, the disadvantaged and the underprivileged.
Yet, in the reality of the world I live in, there is a lot of anger and hatred that seeks revenge and violence. There is plenty of hunger and want because people take and keep more than what they need. There is exclusion of those who are of a different color, or a different language, or a different behavior, or just looks different. There is greed and suspicion and pride. Why can’t we just join together and celebrate our common and shared essence – our humanity?
Lord, listen to my groaning.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.”
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”