roamin' catholic: karin rosner

7:14 New York City

Posted on: December 3, 2011

On Thursday night, I was part of an amazing gathering of a couple hundred prayer warriors of all ages in Manhattan. We climbed over the seasonally empty fountain’s edge in Washington Square Park, stood together in a circle, led by C.J. Guinness &  Eric Marshall in worship. Dozens of other cities took part when their own clocks struck 7:14 PM, including Capetown, Melbourne, and London. The aim of our prayer was to pray for our nations, praying for conversion and revival in every conceivable area that we could think of.

The Holy Spirit gave me a picture of exactly why we there, while we praying for social justice.

The root of social sin in our cities and nations is loneliness. The enemy wants to make each one of the beautiful children of God our Father feel so completely cut off from God and each other that we perpetuate, (a big word with a Latin root that means keep on continuing), exactly what the enemy is experiencing – complete separation from God. He wants to drag us down with him into hell, because that hurts God. It’s one more blast of anger against the Creator of the Universe using each human being that has ever lived or ever will live as cannon balls and cannon fodder in a war he can never ultimately win. (Isaiah. 14:12-14; Matthew 12:24, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, Revelation 12:4)

The hoarding of resources is a result of a mixture of greed and fear, isn’t it? We are afraid of what’s going to happen to us if we break our of our self-interest and share.

For each resource we hold on to so tightly:

one more person goes hungry

one more person has no bed to sleep in, no home to go to

one more unborn child’s life is destroyed and ended before even drawing one breath

one more person dies because there is no medicine or treatment is too expensive

one more person feels lost and alone, powerless, unloved by everyone, including God

one more person turns to drugs, alcohol, sex, or any other addiction to fill the lonely void

The aloneness, the cut-offness of one person is enough to continue the vicious, deadly circle, the chain of greed and fear, the spiral down into Satan’s abyss that creates a real hell on earth. We may not be the fear-mongerers, the hoarders… but we’re trapped in the food chain of sinfulness just the same as the people we accuse of injustice: Wall Street tycoons, slum landlords, Bernie Madoffs, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians…

God created the world, created us, because he wanted to share his absolute love with us. When we walked away, he came to us in Jesus his Son  and showed us what radical love meant. Jesus’ death on a cross and his resurrection sends a nuclear bomb into the hell on earth we’ve helped create… or it can, if we let him in.

So, after I caught my breath and pulled myself together before I started sobbing, I prayed for Christ to change my heart even as his Holy Spirit was breaking it by showing me these things. Jesus died on the cross for us, revealing to us what radical love looks like… and making sure that there is a connection of Mercy, a bridge across a chasm of sin, through Christ himself back to the Source of Love Himself.

God’s remedy for the hell that Satan would drag us all into is Christ’s partnership with us in repairing the damage done to the whole of creation by the enemy’s hate. If Satan would fling human beings fears against each other in creating confusion, despair and chaos, then Jesus invites us to be partners with him in letting radical love flow out and change.

Radical love flows out from God, through us. His mercy moves us and gives us all the tools and resources we need. I was rummaging through my childhood experiences of religion, and looked up Catholic teaching on Mercy, particularly two lists of things that the Catechism teaches Christians must do: what’s known as the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. I used to believe that these were things we had to do, on our own, in order to fulfill religious obligations and be pious, but I think I understand now that God’s Holy Spirit flows out through us to do these things, and changes us so that we’re excited about being a part of all that God is doing to rescue the world from its own hell. It’s not a “must” any more; it’s what God does through us as we grow more and more in likeness to Christ.

Take a look. The first list, the “Corporal” or “physical” Works of Mercy are mostly found in Matthew 25:31-46 :

Feeding the hungry

Giving drink to the thirsty

Sheltering the homeless

Clothing the naked

Visiting and ransoming the captive, (prisoners)

Visiting the sick

Burying the dead

That’s just the practical list. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are less physical, but nevertheless are loneliness-defying attacks against hell. In Christ, through his Spirit, we become part of:

Instructing the uninformed

Counseling the doubtful

Admonishing sinners

Bearing wrongs patiently

Forgiving offenses willingly

Comforting the afflicted

Praying for the living, the sick and the dead

What all of these actions in Mercy look like in the 21st Century are no less amazing than when I read about them in the nineteen seventies and eighties, or when they were drawn up in centuries past. We are empowered to be Christ for one another, in small ways and grand gestures: the Holy Spirit makes it so, makes us grow into being a part of Mercy, if we let him break our hearts and remake us like Christ. The radical love that Christ revealed on the cross flows through us and destroys social sin where it begins, in primal fear of being cut off and alone.

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