Monday, October 16, 2023: I am required to name this hatred, grasp ahold of it, and put it aside
Monday, October 16, 2023
As a person of faith, I struggle to recognize the hatred in my heart. I am required to name this hatred, grasp ahold of it and, somehow, put it aside.
Sunday's homily by Jim Fredericks
Horrible things are happening in the Holy Land. Hamas has committed atrocities in Israel and taken hostages. Some are old. Some are very young. This is a war crime. Now, I fear that it is Israel’s turn to do horrible things.
Americans understand such horrible things. On 10 September 2001, I gathered with my colleagues at Loyola Marymount University to welcome ten Buddhist scholars from Japan. We were going to discuss wonderful things like faith and spiritual awakening and how to respond to the suffering in the world. On the following day, the planes struck the towers in New York and the Pentagon.
That afternoon, one of my Buddhist friends asked me, What will America do?
I told him that America is frightened and when it is frightened, Americans will do horrible things. I looked at my Buddhist friend and both of us thought of Pearl Harbor without saying it out loud.
After twenty years of bravery and heroic service by our soldiers in Afghanistan, the Taliban once again, rule over this long-suffering land. Armies, with all their technology and armaments, are very good at killing certain things. Armies are miserable failures at killing everything else. The Taliban, even though it is a distortion of Islam, is an aspiration. Armies can’t kill an aspiration.
I fear that, after seventy-five years of conflict, neither the people of Israel nor the people of Palestine have learned this lesson. Zionism is an aspiration that can’t be killed by committing atrocities against Jewish people. But Palestinian nationhood is an aspiration that no army can kill either.
Last week, I spoke with a Jewish friend. He is twenty-three years old and a treasure to me. He has never been to Israel but considered, briefly, going to Israel to enlist in the Israeli Defense Force.
During our conversation, my friend asked me a question with a poignancy that touched me deeply:
Jim, what do you do with your hatred? I paused to reflect before responding. A question such as this needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness. It is a question that reveals much about our wounded, humiliated humanity and our loss hope in the future. A question such as this requires much reflection and humility.
Indeed - what are we to do with our hatred? Eventually, I said the following:
I am not a Jew. I have not been attacked. My loved ones have not been taken hostage. Neither am I twenty-three years old. I am not thinking of joining the IDF.
Then I said,
I fear that what I have to say next will not be very useful to you, but I have to say it because it is the truth.
As a person of faith, I struggle to recognize the hatred in my heart. I am required to name this hatred, grasp ahold of it and, somehow, put it aside. This is hard. I do not always succeed. But this is required of me. God requires this of me.
I must put my hatred aside in order to accompany those who have been wounded by hatred. In addition, I must put hatred aside in order to accompany those who are driven by hatred.
I must do all this with a humble and forgiving heart.
My wonderful ones, we have been invited to a banquet. God has prepared a wedding feast for us all. And, alas, we are too busy hating other people to come to the feast.
Go out into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.' The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling a parable to the chief priests and elders of the people… but never mind this. Jesus is talking to you and me.
The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
And nobody shows up. So the king tells his servants
Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast."
Things go downhill. The servants are roughed up, some are even killed. In the end, the king sends out his servants to gather in people to fill his banquet hall.
The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.
The Lord God has not abandoned us to our hatred. In fact, he is inviting us to a wedding banquet. And God is determined to fill all the seats in his banquet hall to celebrate his wedding. His servants are going out into the streets and gathering up everyone they can find – “good and bad alike” – in order that the hall might be “filled with guests.”
My wonderful ones, we are the servants that the king has sent out. We have been commanded to bring in the people – good and bad alike – to the banquet.
I want you to remember that God is gathering up the people of Israel and the people of Palestine and bringing them into his banquet hall. I know this is hard to believe. There are horrible things being done in the Holy Land. But God has not abandoned us to our hatred. In fact, God’s banquet awaits us.
Pray for Palestine. Pray for Israel. These two peoples, so long at odds, are precious in the eyes of God. We must believe this. And we must believe that they have not been abandoned to their hatred.
In Haifa and Jaffa, joint Jewish and Arab patrols seek to prevent violence on both sides. In the south, Bedouin residents risk their lives to search for victims of Hamas terror. In the shadow of war, Arab-Jewish solidarity initiatives emerge.