It is one of the more perplexing features of our age that not a few Christian celebrities forswear their allegiance to Christ and become either Moslems of Buddhists. The wonderful talented singer Cat Stevens became Jusuf Islam, and the multi talented and equally charismatic Sean Stone, a baptized Catholic, becomes a Muslim. Christopher Gere just becomes a Buddhist, which on one level is not very demanding. Sean Stone does still sound very Christian, but with a somewhat syncretistic bent. Buddhism as a religion always strikes me as a sort of Oriental Pelagianism. If I do such and such I will reach Nirvana. I will be released from suffering. Sin cannot simply be a lack of mindfulness. It would seem that Buddha knows little of the innate spirit of rebellion which has been with us since the Fall. This spirit of rebellion, which is often disguised as adventure, becomes enlightened through dubious occult practices, the will to power and domination is totally at odds with Christ and the Redemption. Christ takes on the form of a slave. God abases himself. Whatever Christianity is, it is on one level not about success. Buddhism, and Islam and even the religion of Israel as opposed to its distorted successor Judaism, was in large part about God rewarding the Just. Christ comes to do the Father’s will, and that involves an immensity of suffering, the like of which is totally beyond our comprehension of infinite pain and desolation.
Human success too often ends up being the imposing of pain and desolation on others, and the domination of others, the torturing of others, the killing of others. All this hatred Christ takes on himself:
Turning to the wonderful chapter 53 of Isaiah, we see the prophecies concerning Our Lord’s Passion and Death.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.( Isaiah 53: 4-5)
It was precisely his sufferings that enabled Christ to conquer sin and death and reign as not only God, but as Man. Christ, God and Man, is King of Heaven and Earth and the Universe, and Mary, his mother is Queen by the fact of her motherhood, and that at the foot of the Cross suffered as much as human being could, who was not God, like her Son. Mother and Son united at the Cross, suffering total humiliation so that the human race could be reconciled to God, one God, the other a woman, the Mother of God, show us what this Kingship is all about. It is humility, and the doing of the Father’s will, not one’s will, one’s family’s will, one’s parents’ worldly ambitious will, giving in to one’s children’s will, or one’s spouses will. It is doing the Father’s will, which is being totally open to his Love.
At present there is a terrible will to dominate in the World. In Syria Assad wants to dominate his people, whatever the cost. The Syrian rebels want to destroy the regime and rebuild the country, but they may find themselves dominating and killing their own people, whom they meant to free. Obama is determined to bring so called Democracy to Syria, which is very odd as he seems to be turning the United States into a totalitarian regime, which will become something like a mixture of Brave New World and 1984, and no one seems able to see it. The British Government, suffering from the Blair infatuation with 60’s America, though many of them were too young to remember that decadent, foolish, sexually immoral but idealistic age, has seen itself until very recently as standing side by side with the U.S. I am sure that the U.S. just saw us as hunting hound, and that is all. I suspect we were more than just a poodle. All this vainglory, all this stupidity, this avarice, and this fear of not being noticed, and not being important is so dangerous not only for states, but also for individuals.
Christ was God, but he lived the life of a poor wandering preacher. He was not a successful merchant and brilliant soldier like Mohammed, nor was he recognised as a wise teacher like Buddha, but precisely because he was God, he was able to allow himself to be taken for a failure. His mother then was seen through pitying eyes, at best as the mother of a failure, at worst as the mother of a revolutionary or a criminal. Neither wanted to be respected nor to be respectable, both wanted simply to do the Father’s will. The death and resurrection of Christ, opened the gates of Heaven, letting the redeemed in, and letting the Pentecostal fire of the Holy Spirit out, which brings above all peace.
Humility brings peace, Pride brings fear and envy, hatred, violence, death, and despair, and that is what is happening in Syria and the Middle East. Looking at Barak Obama, who is million miles away from his Biblical namesake, and light years away from his great operatic name sake in Richard Strauss’s great Opera Die Frau Ohne Schatten, most probably is experiencing that calm despair, which is in the gift of Satan, that makes its recipient feel very important, very wonderful, very creative, very independent and very great. It is all the Devil’s terrible lie. Obama is not the first to be taken in, nor is he the last. The role call is endless, and the stuff of human tragedy. As civil war rages with intensifying ferocity in Syria, as the Americans indulge in hubris, and the French continually try to re-invent their dreadful revolution, I would plead with all these people to stand and the foot of the Cross with Our Lady, and in great suffering feel the peace of God, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the beating of Christ’s sacred heart, and then realize that paradoxically this is peace. All that matters is that we do the Father’s will, nothing else matters, and until we accept this truth, there will be wars, cruelties beyond our wildest imaginings, perversions beyond our grasp, and death, physical, and spiritual. Until we comprehend this truth of the Love of the Crucified God, then we will experience war at its worst, and if that is what is needed to bring us back to God, and save us from Hell then so be it. Better Hell on earth for a short while than the true Hell for all eternity.
And with his stripes we are healed.
Finally turning to Our Lady let us remember what Proverbs tells us:
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace. (Proverbs 3:17)
May God give you his peace.