A man who was walking across a bridge and came upon another man standing right on the edge, about to plunge to his death. The first man shouted "Stop! Are you a Christian?" "Yes, as a matter of fact I am." "Well so am I. Are you Catholic or Protestant?" "I'm Protestant," "Well so am I. Are you Episcopal or Baptist?" "I'm Episcopal." "Wow… I am too. Are you a United Episcopal church of America or The Episcopal Church? "I'm in The Episcopal Church," "Me too, that's amazing! Do you use 1949 or 1979 BCP?" "I use 1979 "I can't believe it, so do I." But tell me do you ordain women?" He answered, "Yes we do." To which the first man said, "Die you heretic," and pushed him off the bridge.
Here is another one. “Jesus, we just saw someone who is secretly preaching in your name. He seems to do a lot of miracles in your name including healing a lot of people. They seem to bring the people to the kingdom of God without permission. What do you think of it? We told him to stop as he does not have permission from you or us for that matter. He did not listen to us. What do you want us to do to him?
Don’t you think that is what happened to all Christian Churches in history? Someone did spread the kingdom of God without the permission of the other who considered themselves better than the other?
They were too much worried about their own fellowmen not following the rule while the Satan, the evil power gained momentum on them. So, Christ uses this occasion to teach them to wage a battle against evil rather than one another.
Christ tells his disciples that the first enemy in our world is territorial ism that makes us arrogant. He calls the apostles to see the big picture in the plan of Salvation that empowers human beings who are willing to take risks to bring the kingdom to those who seek it.
Yesterday in the UN one of the world leaders proposed that Switzerland be divided up and given to France, Italy and Germany. Another guy had been talking about eradicating Israel. And then there is another man who said, he does not smell sulfur at the foot of the UN seat. Of the 3600 years of written history of the world there had been 280 years of peace and 8000 peace treaties broken.
Men do not mirror themselves in running water–they mirror themselves in still water. Only what is still can still the stillness of other things.
– Taoism. Chuang Tzu 5
Be still and know that I am God.
To know God and God’s purpose we have to be still both internally and externally.
We all have to calm down and allow the other to be still. Let the course of the action takes its time to see the lasting result.
Here is a beautiful story.
Some children were playing beside a river. They made castles of sand, and each child defended his castle and said, "This one is mine." They kept their castles separate and would not allow any mistakes about which was whose. When the castles were all finished, one child kicked over someone else's castle and completely destroyed it. The owner of the castle flew into a rage, pulled the other child's hair, struck him with his fist and bawled out, "He has spoiled my castle! Come along all of you and help me to punish him as he deserves." The others all came to his help. They beat the child with a stick and then stamped on him as he lay on the ground.... Then they went on playing in their sand castles, each saying, "This is mine; no one else may have it. Keep away! Don't touch my castle!" But evening came, it was getting dark and they all thought they ought to be going home. No one now cared what became of his castle. One child stamped on his, another pushed his over with both hands. Then they turned away and went back, each to his home.
- Buddhism Yogacara Bhumi Sutra 4
Store up treasures for yourself in the kingdom of God. All that we build here are sand castles and all that we fight about are sand castles. We ourselves destroy them at the end of life. Along the way of building those sand castles we have destroyed lives and hopes.
This is what Jesus is warning against today in the scriptures. Beware of the sand castles we build and the lives we destroy for our own territorial-ism.
Is it the hand that causes us to destroy the other? Hand is the extension of God’s creative power. Turn your hands into the hand of God. If not for creation what is it for? If our hand cannot any more create, then it is not worth it.
Are our feet that cause us to destroy the other? Our feet are the extension of God’s sustaining power. If our feet are not for preservation and prevention what are they for? If we cannot walk the mile like Christ did with those who are lost and unloved, what are they for?
Are our eyes what cause the destruction of the other? Our eyes are the eternal sight of God that protects and watches over the weak and poor, the sick and the lonely.
Why is Christ focusing on the hands, the feet and the eyes here? Because as St. Theresa of Avila says:
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet, on earth but yours.
Your are the eyes through which He looks with Compassion on this world
your are the feet
with which He walks to do good.
Your are the hands
with which He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes, through which He Looks
compassion on the world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Peace happens only when Christ happens in the other. Peace happens only when God loses the boundary.
Fr. Jos Tharakan