Fr. Edward
Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 4:00pm
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In light of yesterday's terrorist attacks in Paris: in this Mass, we pray for the repose of the souls of our brothers and sisters who've died and for all those who're suffering tremendously at this time. Jesus' Sacred Heart is pierced by suffering humanity: for what loving Spouse would not be suffering while his Bride is experiencing intense labor pains. So too, Christ the Head suffers, because he is one with the members of His Body, the people of God here on earth.

            We are thankful for the media coverage which informs us of what has happened: we need to know about what is going on in the world, we need to know the situations of our brothers and sisters suffering all over the globe, lest we ever become complacent, isolated, and far removed from them. And let us remember all the other global situations of injustice, terror, and war where there is no extensive media coverage and which we are not fully aware of. Our hearts must go out to them and we must pray and we must sacrifice in union with their suffering. 

            In light of these and all other forms of terrorism, what is a Christian moral response? I want to elaborate on the theme of solidarity, which must do away entirely with a tribal mentality: also known as the "us" vs. "them" mentality.

            Solidarity, said simply, is the attitude of "we are ALL in this together". Contrary to Cain's objection to God: I AM my brother's keeper. I AM responsible for my brother. I AM totally invested in the ENTIRE human race. This is what Jesus teaches us, when the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity becomes totally invested in the human race: the Word becomes Flesh, there's no greater demonstration than this. Solidarity is related to the notion of collective moral responsibility. It is true; you and I are not INDIVIDUALLY responsible for these atrocious attacks in Paris. But can anyone plead complete innocence in what happened? On this Saturday, where the liturgy traditionally invites us to honor and reflect on the Blessed Virgin Mary, let's briefly talk about Mary. Mary of Nazareth is the only human person in history who never sinned. But even she needs a Savior, This is dogmatic Church teaching, even Mary needs to be redeemed by Jesus. Because she was given prevenient grace from the consequences of Original Sin, in the grace of the Immaculate Conception - But she was Immaculately Conceived, not for her own sake, but for Jesus' sake. Mary, too, needs to be saved, and her salvation simply began at the moment of her Conception. She was uniquely Baptized at her Conception...

            My point about Mary is that, even Mary would experience a collective responsibility for what happened in Paris: even though, not personally responsible, Mary is collectively responsible inasmuch as she is a member of the human race and is in solidarity with suffering humanity. All the more, every one of us ought to take ownership in collective responsibility. For in an indirect way, all of us, all of our personal sins and lack of virtue has had a ripple effect on humanity. It is my sins, lack of virtue and holiness that has deprived the people around me in Kansas of the grace they deserved, and this deprivation of grace in the lives of the people of Kansas has undoubtedly deprived other people of love in their lives, which has surely deprived the perpetrators of these terrorist attacks the love they needed to avoid such terrible violence. If we were all saints, none of this would've happened... Therefore, I, Edward Ahn, AM my brother's keeper: I am collectively responsible for the sins of all. and so are you.

            This notion of solidarity, the attitude that "we're all in this together", consequently must do away with every notion of division or a tribal mentality: of pitting certain groups of the human race against one another. Our enemy is NOT these terrorists. Our enemy is NOT ISIS. Our enemy is not flesh and blood, as St. Paul reminds us: Our enemy is only Satan & Sin. God will handle direct combat with Satan & other diabolic spirits. But for us, God gives us permission to wreak havoc against one enemy alone: Sin. Waging war against sin - this is what conversion is: to repent & believe in the Gospel. Sin, within us - that's the battleground.

            St. Maximilian Kolbe reminds us that our enemy is NEVER our fellow human beings. We must think of all of humanity as one big hospice, where every single person is a patient in the hospital and is sick because we are all sinners. We Christians are the appointed Doctors, nurses, and medical staff, but we too, are patients infected with disease, with sin. The only difference between the medical staff and the other patients is that the medical staff is aware of the cure: the grace of Jesus Christ. In this hospital, where we are all sick with sin - sometimes, we'll get patients who are so mentally ill so as to try to kill themselves, or harm other patients or the medical staff. But as spiritual healthcare practitioners, we Christians too, take the Hippocratic oath in treating our patients: we ought never harm our patients, because they are our patients, they are ill. These terrorist perpetrators are our fellow brothers. They are severely ill patients of ours, they are not our enemies. Our enemy is sin, so let's direct our energy in that direction: in wreaking havoc against sin in the world, starting within ourselves: by repenting of our sin and believing & living the Gospel.

            The Christian moral response to the terrorist attacks certainly will entail proper political action to ensure self-defense of civilians all across the world. But it must be a political action that does not ignore everyone's collective responsibility in the attitude of solidarity. Not to neglect that I AM my brother's keeper. That there's no such thing as "us" versus "them". That the Christian war effort is waged, never against any human being, but against sin in the world, beginning within ourselves.