Meditations and Reflections: June 2003 Archives

I've been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's marvelous book Anger. In doing so, this passage leapt off the page:

Thich Nhat Hanh

Punishing the other person is self-punishment. That is true in every circumstance. Every time the United States Army tries to punish Iraq, not only does Iraq suffer, but the U.S. also suffers. Every time Iraq tries to punish the U.S., the U.S. suffers, but Iraq also suffers. The same is true everywhere; between the Israeli and Palestinian, between the Muslim and HIndu, between you and the other person. It has always been like that. So let us wake up; let us be aware that punishing the other is not an intelligent strategy.

What I am sometimes amazed by, more often encouraged by, is the wisdom that echoes of Christianity found in nearly any sincere practitioner of his or her faith. This echo, this strain, reminds me of the passage in the creed: "One holy, apostolic, and Catholic Church." It casts new meaning on "no salvation outside the Church." It would seem to me that Christ reaches out from the heart of the Church to embrace people who are looking for Him though they may not know His name. Nhat Hanh certainly knows His name, having written several books in which Buddhism and Christianity are laid side by side and explored. But there are a great many Buddhists for whom Christ is unknown. Jesus still reaches out to these people through the truths of their faith. These are sheep that hear His voice and know it, but who have never seen the Shepherd and do not know His name. Or so I think--naturally, I have no proof of this, and I do believe that they would be even better off were they to know the fullness of the Catholic Faith. But sometimes people are born into a place where that is not a possibility--I believe that even in those circumstances the voice of Jesus is heard. I pray for the salvation of all, that all may be brought into the fullness of faith by our loving Father.

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Pursuant to remarks of this morning, this scripture came to mind--and suddenly there seemed to be an enormous depth that opened up. Jesus pointedly comments that the path of salvation is narrow and the path of destruction wide. And yet, here is another paradoxical truth. That strait gate and narrow way are actually much wider and more encompassing than the path of destruction. The path of destruction is our own self-limiting, narrow, wills. The strait gate and narrow way are God's will. God's will is identical for each person in that it demands holiness, but it is unique because it demands holiness of the person. As each person differs, God's will for each is different. Thus God's will is a broad plain in comparison to the road of destruction. But because we experience only a small facet of that broad plain (God's will for us is for us as individuals and therefore a narrow and small way) what we observe as individuals is that the path of destruction seems enormous in comparison with the path of God's will. This is the true beauty of the depths of God's word. What is spoken seems so simple and straight-forward, but what it means has depths we will never in our lifetimes completely plumb.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Meditations and Reflections category from June 2003.

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