Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘war’


2 Maccabees 13: The Fire Tower

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Ruins at Shiraz: a city in ancient Persia

Upheaval in the Middle East seems to be a human curse.  It is a land over which many civilizations – both ancient and modern – have fought, and continue to fight.  Today’s Noontime reading is as brutal as any modern headline.  Intrigue, slaughter, deception, parlay, betrayal, treaty, treason, murder, truce, assault, skirmish, daring, withdrawal, indignation, victory, defeat, and death – we find all of these in today’s story.  We find persuasion but we do not find peace.  We see wrangling but we do not see union.  We read about standoffs and stand-downs but we do not find true coming together.  In this ancient story we might change a few details and find ourselves reading a press release from our favored news source about the conflagration that is the Middle East.

Old tribal fears and alliances govern the lives of those we read about today.  Compromise is often seen as a weakness.  Honesty is employed only by the foolish.  Integrity is not valued.  And love of enemy is regarded as idiotic.  We also find these clannish tendencies in our own culture despite the fact that we may define ourselves as a mosaic or melting pot or amalgam of ethnicity and customs.  Even in our own modern political arena we have the smoking infernos that resemble the fire towers of ancient Persia that we read about here.  We will want to study this story in the hope that when we recognize it as our own . . . we will know to turn back to the God who calls us forward together . . . rather than follow the little gods who doom us to our own fiery tower and smoldering pit of ash.

Ahura Mazda

Commentary tells us that the tower we see in verse 5 resembles those erected to Ahura Mazda, or the Wise Lord, who “was the supreme deity of Persian mythology. The Zoroastrians identified him with purifying fire and tended fires on towers as part of their worship”.  (“Myth Encyclopedia”)  And this leads us to our examination of conscience today as we continue our Lenten journey.  What fiery towers to self do we erect?  Into what smoldering ash pits do we lead ourselves and others?  How do we react to tribalism and the worship of false deities?  Do we hate or love our enemies?  Do we prefer the fire of self destruction to the salvific love of Christ?  Do we seek comfort in our hope to avoid suffering rather than willingly follow the living God whose only focus is our salvation?Today’s narrative is so violent that we might pass it off as an episode in ancient history that deserves only a moment of our time.  We might also see it as sectarian violence that takes place only in far off places on the other side of the ocean.  We might fool ourselves into thinking that there is nothing here for us to learn.  And in this thinking we evade God’s word to us today for when we look closely we can find ourselves.  As we enter into interactions with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and strangers we see all the characters of our intimate and public lives: the invader versus the defender, charioteers who ride swiftly through our days swinging swords and mahouts who seat unmoving elephants in our path, foot soldiers who obey and distant leaders who reign over the lowly, Jews and Gentiles, pagans and believers, rebels and loyalists.  We brush against these people each day as we move from sun up to sun down, and through it all we have only one question to ask ourselves.Do we throw ourselves from the fiery tower we have built to the gods that have become so important to us that we foolishly take part in daily scenarios that we read about today . . . or do we love our enemies despite the ash pits they build . . . do we ask for peace through our own actions and not just our words . . . and do we love the Living God who saves us more than the tumult of war? 


A re-post from February 25, 2012.

Images from: http://www.infohub.com/vacation_packages/26382.html and and http://history.factoidz.com/mysteries-of-the-persian-empire-the-faith-of-zarathustra/

Read more: Persian Mythology – Myth Encyclopedia – Greek, god, legend, names, ancient, war, world, Roman, creation http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Pa-Pr/Persian-Mythology.html#ixzz1nPJV2ALp  “Persian Mythology.” Myth Encyclopedia. Advameg, Inc., n.d. Web. 25 Feb 2012. 

http://www.usccb.org/bible/2maccabees/13/

Read Full Post »


James 3:13-4:10: Envy

Friday, November 13, 2015envy

“Within this call to conversion, James develops the theme of envy as exemplifying the measure of the world . . . Why is envy so singled out? Because its underlying assumption is that your gain is my loss. This is the opposite of the Spirit of the community, where all gain by anyone’s growth and all rejoice in anyone’s good fortune. Envy causes me to sorrow when another has something I lack. And when life is measured simply in terms of what I possess – ‘I am what I have’ – then for another to have and me to lack is intolerable. Envy drives the acquisitive instinct . . . the step is a short one to conflict, war, and murder, not only between individuals but also between nations . . . It is remarkable that this passage, which alone in the New Testament analyzes the causes of human conflict, should play so little role in moral discussions of war and peace”. (RG 551-552)

God says: James is correct when he tells you that envy is often at the root of your violence and anger. He is also correct when he points out that life in the Spirit means that you feel joy when one of you rejoices and sadness when one of you is in pain. Your friendship with me brings much than consolation; it brings you the ability to see the world as I see it, full of potential for goodness. I resist those who are full of pride in themselves and I nurture those who look for life in me. When you agree to live in The Way you will no longer be envious of others and you will celebrate when any one of you does well because you will understand that all good things come from me. When you are envious of others I am saddened, for your envy tells me that you do not understand my generosity. When you make war against one another I grieve,  for I can see that you do not understand my love. James is bringing my message to you . . . take time with it today.

Enter the word envy into the blog search bar and explore.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 551-552. Print.

Read Full Post »


horlogerieFriday, May 9, 2014

Mark 13:3-8

Such Things

See that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name saying, “I am he,” and they will deceive many. When you hear of wars and reports of wars, do not be alarmed; such things must happen but it will not be the end.

We live in a world in which information flies around the globe more quickly than we can take it in. Some of us are overwhelmed. Some of us become desensitized. Some of us try to find a place for our fear and an appropriate reaction.  Some of us hide and try to protect ourselves in the monuments to our fear and control that we build for ourselves and loved ones. Some of us take in this news and try to balance our caution with our love.

God says: It is impossible to sort out all the conflict that surges around you locally and globally. This information is fearsome but do not let it drive you further from me. I am not in the event. I am in you. I am not in the dreadfulness. I am in the caring hands and feet and hearts that tend to the wounded. When such things happen that frighten you, remember that I watch over you just as I watched over the Hebrews when I guided and protected them as the pillar of smoke and fire. You are as precious to me now as were the Hebrews then. Live out my love as you address the wars and reports of wars but do not be alarmed. Such things happen but it is not the end.

Let us consider how we might preach the good news Jesus speaks to us today in these words recorded by Mark.  Think about visiting an “End Times” web site and applying God’s words about such things.  (A typical site can be found at http://www.signs-of-end-times.com/.) Think about the presentation of such information, and reflect on how we react, why we react, and how we might live out the Gospel words we read today.

Tomorrow, the coming persecution.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: