On the Ekklesia Project website, Mark Ryan has posted some thoughts on what it means “To Feel as Christians.” He’s basing his comments primarily on Psalm 119:139, which says, “I am consumed by anger, because my enemies forget your words.”
Of course, that verse is hardly the only place in scripture where we are confronted by emotions of anger, hate, and betrayal—even directed toward God.
Ryan notes how anger and hate have infused the body politic in America, and how Christians get sucked right in. He says that “both our leaders and many of our fellow citizens exist for us as abstractions, as types rather than persons. Our political climate is generated and sustained by a system able to create identities rooted primarily in ideological packages: abstract groupings that mesh political, religious and cultural meanings or viewpoints. The political climate in which we live, in other words, already tutors our emotions. Those of us who find ourselves opposed to one leader or another must ask ourselves, ‘Are we being shaped by a politics that trains us to see fellow citizens not as particular human beings but as abstract symbols of the opposition?’”
Something deeper and more pernicious happens than the loss of civility, as precious as that is. We betray our primary identity, as children of God. “Because our worship of…God must constitute our deepest identity, we cannot be who we are without cultivating those emotions in and through which all persons are seen primarily as concrete individuals who image God uniquely, and only secondarily as partisans of this cause or that group.”
Lord, give me the grace to recognize my sisters and brothers, even when they’re spouting utter nonsense! (Of course, I always avoid letting nonsense leave my lips!)
That seems like an appropriate reflection on this All Saints’ Day.