Yesterday I spoke to someone whose son was part of the last group of combat forces leaving Afghanistan to return home to the United States. Later, as I was preparing for upcoming November events, I spent time with St. Catherine of Siena whose short life included much suffering for her faith as well as a crusade to lead the Pope back to Rome, ending what is known as the Avignon Captivity. This, in the year 1377, by a woman of age 30! Lastly, I read a long article about the struggle for conscious attention, not only in prayer but throughout all daily events and activities.
All of this comes to mind as I contemplate the messages of Scripture this morning. Psalm 144 proclaims: Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war. Paul is preaching about spiritual struggle with his advice about putting on “the armor of God, that you may be able to resist…and hold your ground.” (EPH 6:10-20). Jesus to is refusing to turn away from his journey toward Jerusalem (LK 13:31-35), lamenting the fate of those who have tried to speak for God there and been mistreated and/or stoned to death. His own mission is clear and he intends to carry it to the end.
I would rather not allow these thoughts of war and physical destruction to invade my morning, sitting as I do in my peaceful home in rural upstate New York, but history and the events of today call me to consciousness. My task, I believe, is to return to Paul’s exhortation where he calls me to “pray at every opportunity in the Spirit…for all the Holy Ones and for me… so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.” Whether like Mike in Afghanistan fighting for the life of the people, Jesus in Jerusalem facing his destiny or Paul and Catherine of Siena in their travels to proclaim the message of the gospel, I must recognize that my role in the building of “God’s house” is not separate but integral to the family of humanity. Wherever my life intersects with others, that is the place where I must stand firm in the conscious struggle for justice, peace and the triumph of light over darkness.