In reviving the Protestant side of dialogue on AATW, I fear that I have let loose a great deal of asperity to mar what remains of the Lenten season, for which I apologise. The desire to defend one’s position and unburden oneself of thoughts and feelings should not come at the expense of peace, especially other people’s peace.
Arguments and debates can become heated even concerning trivial things – how much more matters of faith that concern the welfare of our very souls? I was grieved to be reminded of Jess’ suffering, and I hope that this time of retreat will allow her to find comfort in Abba’s arms. He is the only one who can help.
Each of us brings his own heartache to the communion table. I may not have been through marriage, but I know what it is to have family problems and to doubt my own identity and my own self-worth. Strange as it may sound, I find a couple of lines in the old Catholic catechism helpful:
“Who made me?”
“God made me.”
“Why did God make me?”
“God made me to know Him, and to love Him.”
Achilles tells Priam in Iliad XXIV that there is a limit to grief, and he bids him take thought for food. They share a meal together, and in the morning Priam departs with the body of his son, Hector, to carry out the due funeral rites for him in Ilium. After the ordained time is fulfilled, battle will begin again.
We must not spend too much time in our sorrow, but at the same time, due space must be allotted to it. We are all in our own way mourning Jess’ departure from AATW, but we are also trying to find a way to have meaningful dialogue. As an Anglo-Catholic who loved the East, she stands at the cross-roads of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism: John, Peter, and Paul. Chalcedon is her worthy successor – and also her predecessor.
“Just love them.” This is the Lord’s commandment. The differences are real, but so is the harm: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15). Now, more than ever, we need to present a united front to those who are perishing. The End Times Church faces the consummation of all things: the Mystery of Iniquity approaches and so does the Final Judgement. Our Crusade is coming. The fall of Jerusalem means also the salvation of all Israel, and we shall be judged according to how we treated the children of Jacob and our own brothers and sisters in Christ: “Whatsoever you did to the least of these, my brothers, you did also to Me.”
We must strive to liberate our brothers and sisters who labour in bondage in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, and we must strive to be at peace with each other. We live in a time of great challenge, and we can meet this challenge: God never calls us without equipping us. But we have to face this challenge together; we’ve got to learn to trust each other. This time must be different: dare to be a Hezekiah and not an Ahaz.