Just Because

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Thu, 11/11/2021 - 10:20

It has become second nature to many of us lately to jump to words or even acts of violence the moment we encounter what we believe to be an injustice. If we witness behavior that we do not approve of, we immediately take to social media and blast this person or that business. It seems around every corner is some sort of battle being waged on social media, and unfortunately some of that literally bleeds into the streets with violent riots. I wonder what would happen if we took a different approach.

I must admit I jump immediately to arguments when I am confronted with situations in which I have strong feelings. Saying I am passionate about issues sounds like an excuse, but my short temper is something I am working to fix in my life. Some days are better than others. In this struggle I am also learning how to seek forgiveness.

While I admit my failures in holding my tongue, this blog is not about me today. Rather, it is about the frightening trend in our society to leapfrog over discussions and land on a war footing, be it figuratively or literally. The words of St Paul in today’s reading has caused me to think.

Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. – 2nd Corinthians 4.6-15

There is little doubt we are living in dark times. There can be little doubt that we struggle to allow the Light of Christ to shine in our lives, especially when we find it so easy to fight rather than talk. I know in my life, I especially get defensive when I feel that an injustice is being perpetrated to me. This is where today’s reading spoke to me. “Just because” we are persecuted, if indeed we are even really persecuted, does not give us justification to stop the Light of Christ from shining. “Just because” we are afflicted, or struck down, or driven to despair, if any is ever true, does not give us justification to fight instead of love.

“Just because” isn’t a reason for anything other than, “Just because” God loves us, we should love others. “Just because” Christ died for us, we should be willing to die just a little bit in our ego, for Him. “Just because” we suffer, we experience God’s grace and are that much more thankful to God.

I feel I must also add today, that praying instead of fighting does not mean that we allow or tolerate injustice when we witness injustice. We should always stand for love and justice. The problem isn’t whether we stand for justice or not stand for justice. The problem is, WHO’s definition of justice are willing to stand for?

St Means of Egypt, whose memory we commemorate today, stepped away from his military responsibilities to live an ascetical Christian life. In his willingness to step away, he was martyred in 296AD “just because” he was a Christian. He wears his crown of martyrdom with joy to this day. We may not be martyred physically for stepping away from fighting on social media, but we will be honored by God when we choose prayer over violence. Injustice or not, we must always be on the side of love and peace as followers of Jesus Christ. We must never use “just because” as an excuse for violence as the world has so often done over the centuries. It’s time we teach the world that loving “just because” is a much better solution to injustice.

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