Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lazarus: the Raising of the Dead and Death via Division

I'm not one to post on specific political issues save the dignity of the human person (e.g., such issues as abortion) and those stances that are derived from this axiom. The Church in the US particularly frowns on clergy directly speaking for or against political persons, parties, and movements. In principle, this is not a difficult prohibition as one can always simply proclaim the Gospel and the moral message that it espouses and leave it to the congregation to draw the appropriate inferences. I say this because it is, or should be, obvious that certain positions, and therefore movements, parties, and politicians who hold them inevitably risk ignoring or outright denying elements of the Gospel. That there can be only one Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only unequivocal it is scriptural. (Galatians 1:8f)

To be a Christian is to believe. And the belief of Christianity has real, discernible content. Anyone can interpret around specific aspects of that divine corpus of wisdom we call the Gospel, but in the end, the Faith of the Fathers is exactly as described: a Rock.(Matthew 7:24f, I Corinthians 10:4, I Peter 2:8). As people are fond of saying these days, "It is what it is."

Having given this 'disclaimer' - so that hierarchical bureaucrats need not post me copies of corporate rules written in fear of losing the government granted/imposed tax exemption (READ: "politically motivated gag order") - I would draw your attention to an editorial in today's Washington Times by Jeffrey T. Kuhner, a columnist, president of the Edmund Burke Institute Washington think tank, and host of a daily radio talk show. The editorial is entitled, "Will America break up?"

Ostensibly, the piece is concerned with the ongoing US debate concerning government administered health care. The thesis is that the divisions of opinion regarding the topic of government intervention in assuring basic health care coverage for all citizens, and perhaps non-citizens needing it while on American soil, is so divisive that it can only either threaten or presage the eventual break up of the United States. How this division will unfold is not clearly enunciated in that the diverse opinions of Americans on this topic, like so many others, is not one that can be demarcated along geographical lines. Yet the author draws one illustration that I have long felt apropos to one hotly debated portion of the program recently passed by the US Federal legislature: Abortion.

Mr Kuhner says:

Moreover, the law codifies the federal funding of abortion. Taxpayer dollars will be used to subsidize the murder of innocent life. Hence, Mr. Obama has violated the social compact: He has abrogated the conscience of pro-lifers, making them tacitly complicit in the slaughter of the unborn. Obamacare is a radical assault upon fundamental religious freedoms.

The Obama revolution threatens to tear America apart. This has happened before. Slavery eventually triggered the Civil War between the industrial North and the agrarian South. Abortion is the slavery of our time - the denying of basic human rights to an entire category of people.
He goes on from this unarguably accurate analysis of the two basic positions on aborticide to conclude: "The bitter debate over Obamacare has exposed the country's profound divisions. We are no longer one nation or one people. Rather, there are now two Americas: one conservative, the other liberal. Increasingly, we no longer just disagree but we despise each other." This conclusion is itself debatable, if in no other measure than the hatred and starkness of division it ascribes.

Today is the Saturday of Lazarus for Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christians. On this day, we commemorate the death of a close friend of Jesus, whom Jesus allows to die and lay in the crypt for four days until the stench of rot has set in. In that moment, when the crowds begin to mummer that such a great 'faith healer' should have been able to prevent Lazarus's death, our Lord prays to God the Father and through His divine command, restores, resuscitates and resurrects Lazarus. One might say, therefore, that out of the rot of human corruption God provides Lazarus a second chance (although by all accounts, Lazarus was a just man).

People may take various sides on the many issues that confront modern society. These positions may lead one to a triumphalism or else full dispairity that any hope remains. We Christians of the East, following fast the example and living witness of the Church Fathers refuse to succumb to either extreme trusting rather in the Rock that may bruise the storm tossed but also proves the salvation of all who cling to it.

I pray that everyone used the time of Great Lent for spiritual profit, take the opportunity of today and tomorrow (Palm Sunday) to reflect on the power and humility of God, and follow the hours of Holy Week to follow, imitate and grow in the Image and Likeness of the God who, in giving up all gained everything for those who accept the chance to cling to that Rock.

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