FAST FOOD (2014): Fortieth Helping
“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”
Pope Francis, 6/21/14
The general question around which these FAST FOOD Helpings for the 2014 Forty Day Fast for the Truth of Gospel Nonviolence has revolved is not, ‘Does Jesus save?” but rather, “How does Jesus save?” The answer given, employing the words of Rev. John L. McKenzie, is Jesus saves by Christlike love:
The power, which destroys all other powers, is the power of love, the love of God revealed and active in Jesus Christ. God revealed in Jesus that He loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else. The saving act of Jesus is an act of love of the type which He recommends in the Gospels. He loves God by loving His fellow men. The enduring presence of the power which entered the world in the incarnation enabled man in any condition to live the life of Jesus and to continue in his own person the love which is the saving act. The resurrection is the climax of the saving act. But, man is not ready for love. He never has been. Yet, it is the one enduring reality in the created world, and in it man achieves enduring reality and value. Jesus presents in His words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but the only way of doing what He did.
The remainder of all FAST FOOD Helpings is then given over to elucidating, explaining, clarifying that it is by those He has chosen to be His disciples trustfully entering into the process of participating in this saving act, that the salvation of Israel, of each unique individual and of all humanity is ultimately concluded. Participation in the saving of act of love as defined by Jesus’ words and deeds is participation in a moral revolution. This is why He says that for a person to follow in His Way, he or she must die to himself or herself or deny himself or herself. “Die” and “deny” are pretty strong descriptive words that denote something significantly more than a slight alteration in thought and in behaviour. They are words that envision a moral revolution.
But, Jesus’ teaching is infinitely more than a mere moral statement about right and wrong. As the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world, He has “the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68 ).
If a morality based on reason and nature is the supreme morality of which human beings are capable and it is able to deliver humanity from perpetual enslavement to evil, sin, suffering and death, then there is no need for a Messiah, the Incarnation or any other avenue of Divine revelation communicating God’s Will and Way to humanity. There is no need for a Saviour. Humanity or the individual human being can save himself or herself. But that fact is that neither humanity nor the individual person can save themselves by living in conformity with a moral code based on reason and nature. Why? Because whatever is deduced by reason from nature as a code of moral conduct is deduced from nature by a corrupted consciousness of extremely limited vision, not in its original state of holiness and righteousness, and obscured by personal desires, the ever present orientations and inclinations of concupiscence. The Way of Jesus the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of the world is a Way of revolutionary revelation designed by God. It is not a way of reasonable deductions derived from a perception of a scintilla of nature.
So, now, the issues of how Jesus saves and why human beings and humanity need a Saviour have been addressed. But, how does it work? Most of the seventy billion human beings, homo sapiens sapiens, who have lived and died never heard of the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way and His saving act of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. How can they be saved by Jesus with the cooperation of those He chooses to be Baptized into Him, to put on the Christ and to trustfully follow His Way by trying to “love as He loves?” I don’t know!
Jesus does not tell humanity how evil ultimately works at root. He does not give humanity a philosophy of evil. He does not even tell humanity how to cope with evil. He tells humanity only how to overcome evil—and that is by loving as He loves, as the God, who is love, loves. If one is spiritually assiduous one can see here and there how Christic love freely chosen does conquer evil in a particular situation. But how it conquers evil per se, the terrible and universal dynamic that haunts every nook and cranny of human existence, on this matter Jesus says not a word. So in trusting faith, emmunah faith, in Him, we have to take His word that it does. The metaphysical mechanism by which Jesus’ act of saving love conquers evil, and each Christian’s choice of such an act of love results in the salvation of all, are beyond description in human language because they take place beyond the domain to which human beings, and hence their languages, have access while living their lives on earth.
But within the realm in which language can authentically communicate, this much can be said. The saving act of love that is incarnated in, taught by and lived by Jesus and mediated to humanity through Jesus is a love that has within it the power of God, indeed God is within it, because the reality God is simply one with His love. It is the infinite mystery of the power of the almighty and eternal God within that act of Christlike love that makes any chosen act of Christlike love salvifically efficacious and of eternally enduring value. It is the living Almighty Eternal I AM, who is love, present in the chosen act that makes it an act that saves, an act of participating in the process of the eternal salvation of one and all.
It was on this day, August 9, in 1942, that Saint Edith Stein (St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce) was murdered by Christians at Auschwitz. On August 9, 1943, Christians in Berlin murdered Blessed Franz Jagerstatter. August 9, 1945, was the day that a Christian B-29 crew, lead by a Catholic man from Boston, murdered forty thousand people, mostly Christians, in Nagasaki. All of the Christians, who did all of this murdering on this date, believed that they were good Christians doing their duty for God and country. And there was no one in the power elites of any of their Churches that communicated to them anything different.
The photograph above is of the melted rosary of Midori Moriyama Nagai, which she had with her at 11:02 A.M. when the people of Nagasaki were cremated alive by a plutonium atomic bomb. Her melted rosary was all that was left of her at 11:03 A.M.
Midori was born into an ancient Japanese Catholic family, the Moriyamas. The family for about 265 years were kakaure kirishitan, “hidden Christians,” who lived secret Christian lives because for this time span (1600-1865) Christianity was an outlawed religion in Japan with torture and death being the consequences of being a Christian. Historically the Moriyamas were the traditional leaders of the kakure kirishitan for seven generations. Midori was fundamentally a mother of a family, although she did lead her future husband, Takashi Nagai, who after the war was known as the “Gandhi of Japan” into Christianity. Except for a small segment of Japanese Catholicism, she, like all those Christians who were murdered by Christians 30,000 feet above them on August 9, 1945, is all but unknown to history and the rest of humanity.
The first atomic bomb in the history of the world was detonated on July 16, 1945, at Trinity Site, deep in the New Mexico desert. It was a plutonium bomb. Major Charles Sweeney, a Catholic man, later to become Major General Charles Sweeney, was the pilot of the plane that dropped the second plutonium bomb ever made on the second civilian population to ever be incinerated by an atomic bomb, Nagasaki. On the 59th anniversary, July 16, 2004, of the explosion of that first plutonium atomic bomb at Trinity Site, Charles Sweeney died in a Boston Hospital.
So now two Christians, Midori Moriyama Nagai and Charles Sweeney, who in this life never came closer to each other than 30,000 feet on August 9, 1945, meet face to face, the murderer and the murdered, in the eternal life in which they both believed. How does the act of saving love by Jesus or subsequent acts of saving love by His disciples save in this situation? Or how does it make any difference when Edith Stein meets her murderers? Or, Franz Jagerstatter his? Or the other 39,999 people murdered at Nagasaki meet Charles Sweeney? I don’t know! What about when Hitler or Stalin or Churchill or “Bomber” Harris meet those upon whom they poured down unrelenting suffering and death? I don’t know!
What I believe is that the Nonviolent Jesus of Nazareth, who teaches by word and deed a Way of Nonviolent Love of friend and enemies as the Will of God, and as the Way God designed to save and restore humanity to the fullness of life forever, is emmunah-worthy. Of course I cannot syllogistically prove my faith in Jesus is God’s choice to be the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of all humanity. I cannot logically prove that Jesus and His Way are worthy of emmunah. Faith by definition cannot be proved, even the faith of the atheist. All that it is possible to offer to anyone by way of justifying faith in the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels who teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is to suggest that he or she ruminate on and savor, these forty FAST FOOD Helpings and the Person and the Gospels that are their source. The only possible “proof “of the truth of this faith is to encourage a person seeking proof, seeking the truth, that he or she pray to God for clarity of mind and spirit, and then “taste and see” if this is not the Way, the only Way, to be freed oneself and to participate in freeing humanity from the chains of evil, sin, suffering and death forever.