South Sudan's Challenge

South Sudan's Challenge
Healing & Reconciliation

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Spirituality of Martyrdom

A SPIRITUALITY OF MARTYRDOM

That belief continued even after the persecutions stopped and the Roman powers stopped killing Christians. The only thing that changed was how that martyrdom was now conceived.
A rich spirituality developed within which martyrdom began to be conceived more metaphorically, as giving out one’s blood, drop-by-drop, through selflessness, through sacrificing one’s hopes and dreams for others, through giving away one’s life through duty, through letting oneself be constantly called out of one’s personal agenda to respond to the needs of others.
When we try to live as if our lives are about ourselves, we either end up too full of ourselves or too empty of everything else, inflated or depressed. Put simply, we either end up dying in selflessness on one hill or we end up full of ourselves and self-hatred on some other hill! There’s no neutral space between. Only one thing can save us from infantile grandiosity, dangerous self-righteousness, bitterness about life, and aging badly, and that is some form of martyrdom.
We are made in God’s image and likeness and, because of this, carry inside of ourselves an immense fire; a fire for love, creativity, glory, greatness, and transcendence.
It is a fire to carry others, feed others, create delight for them, even as it is an energy to die for them. It is a fire to act as Jesus did and therefore it is a fire for crucifixion, for martyrdom. We are born to live for others and we are born to die for them, with one and the same energy, and we are only happy when we are about the business of doing both.
This longing for martyrdom has various disguises, some lofty and others less so. The desire for martyrdom manifests itself in the desire for heroism, the desire for greatness, the desire to be a great lover, the desire to leave a mark, to be immortal. Underpinning all of these is the desire to take love and meaning to their ultimate, altruistic end: death in sacrifice for others.
This is the deep instinctual pattern written into the soul itself and it posits that real maturity lies in being stretched truly tall, on some cross, in crucifixion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Ascension of the Lord (A)



Readings: Acts 1: 1-11; Ephesians 1: 17-23; Matthew 28: 16-20

Selected Passage: "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Mt. 28: 18b-20)

Meditation: Jesus sends the apostles with a mandate to make disciples of all nations.  And they have nothing to fear, because He assured them of his presence in their midst until the end of time. 

All the Baptized share in the Mission of the Apostles to proclaim the Good News and make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to observe what Jesus has commanded- the Love of God and the Love of neighbor, especially those in need! www.badaliyya.blogspot.com

 DHIKR SIMPLE METHOD

1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Second Look at the Approaches to Militant Islam

A Second Look at the Approaches to Militant Islam…

Part of my present work is peace advocacy.  This, inevitably, leads to the approaches to a perceived threat that is called Militant Islam, at times labeled as violent extremism.  The term covers a lot of ground, as news reports tend to lump together Islamic movements regardless of ideology and persuasion.   My approach deals with open and frank discussion with scholars, peace practitioners, and policy makers that deal directly or indirectly with the much “feared” militant Islamic movement aka violent extrtemism. 

To begin with, Militant Islamic movements are NOT monolithic organizations forming a sort of international front (al-Qaeda, Jama’a Islamiyya, ISIS or otherwise).  I recognize the legitimacy of the greater majority of Islamic movements that attempt to articulate in various ways a more authentic Islamic identity both in private and in public sphere.  There is always the need to remind people, especially policy makers in the West, that the militant Islamic movements or violent extremism form a small (albeit very assertive) minority in the Muslim world.  

There are now more than a billion Muslims in the world.  Of this number, more than two third lives outside the Arab world.  The biggest Muslim population is to be found in Indonesia.  Muslims differ not only linguistically, ethnically, racially and culturally, but also by the major divisions in Islam between the Sunni and the Shiites and by various schools of laws therein.

Following the tragedy of 9/11, there is always the danger of falling victims to over simplistic responses or reactions to militant Islam or violent extremism in Islam. The US and its allies (the so-called the “coalition of the willing”) have launched the now famous slogan, “War against Terror”.  The slogan without depth becomes a new reductionism that leads not only to a naive response to a very complex reality but also to certain myopia in facing the challenges of militant Islam.  In fact, the myopia and naivetĂ© fuel the prevailing paranoia in viewing militant Islam. Time and again, we need to emphasize that Islam and even the majority of the so-called militant Islamic movements do not constitute the new “ism” confronting the West or threatening world peace. 

There is the danger that the Cold War of the recent past is NOW being replaced with a new war between Islam and the West (following the thought on the clash of civilization).  The Crusade is long over…! The “war against terror” and the “coalition of the willing” approach often are interpreted in the Muslim world as new Crusades against Islam.  Thus, it is crucial to differentiate in words and deeds (policy and commitments) the mainstream Muslims and “legitimate” Islamic movements on the one hand and Muslim individuals and groups that among others advocate for “terrorism” and violence, on the other. 

Majority of the militant Islamic movements, including the more militant ones, are rooted on the perceived or real injustices and poverty.  The disillusionment with the West and the US in particular, has material basis.  Many people claim and believe that the singular US policy, which leads to Islamic radicalism and its anger, is its continued all-out support to Israel in the whole Israel-Palestine question notwithstanding the many UN Resolutions to the contrary.  On this one particular issue, the US is, tragically, always pitted against the entire Muslim world. (By the way, the Organization of the Islamic Countries emerged following the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Sinai and Gaza post 1967 Arab-Israeli War.)

Burning issues that fuel this growing frustration and sense of hopelessness are the following:

·      the continuing occupation of the West Bank;
·      the absence of forward movement in the Arab-Israeli Peace Process;
·      the ambiguity of other “Muslim homelands” in many parts of the world;
·      the inclination to “lump” Islamic movements into “terrorists circles”; and
·      the widespread poverty and lack of development in the world of Islam despite the almost limitless petro-dollars controlled by the few families in the oil producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

These and the continuing decline of Islamic world power following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire make the more militant radical groups more popular in the Muslim communities.  Militant Islam, like the ISIS, attracts adherents and this may pose serious implications for the moderates – individuals and nations.  The failure to address these burning issues “satisfactorily” provides the fertile ground for a “dangerous” militant brand of Islam.

The overall positive reality in the world of Islam notwithstanding the existence of the radicals is the fact that the great majority of Muslims and Islamic countries are moderates.  No doubt, they can serve as positive forces and potential “bridges” not only between the Muslim masses and the moderates but also between Islam and the West.  In the final analysis, it is truly a “battle” for the minds and the hearts of the masses.  And this war is never won in the battlefield, even when couched with glorious slogans like “Operation Iraq Liberation/Freedom” or “War against Terror”.  In fact, battlefields simply produce more martyrs and thereby further reducing the option to one, that is, more violence. 

Another approach is the “policy of containment”.  Containment has different meanings depending on perspectives.  The common understanding is the military version that builds more fences, more road checkpoints, more blockades, and more blowing of bridges that separate peoples and communities.  This type of containment exacerbates the tensions and the anger that push people to extremism.  The other understanding of “containment” is not “geographical” but “paradigmatic”.  It is said that the best way to contain the spread of militant Islam that is akin to virus is not to build more fences and walls but to come up with a “vaccine” that presents a better image and hermeneutic of Islam and traditions.

The biggest obstacle in grappling with the militant Islam is the prevailing widespread of Wahabbism not only in its traditional geographical sphere (Saudi Arabia) but the preponderance of Wahabbism spread through petro-dollars among the scholars trained in Saudi Arabia and in many madaris and foundations funded and supported by Saudi’s petro-dollars. 

Wahabbism is the root to a taqlid-like approach to Islam that abhors any innovations (bid’a) and consciously promote a sort of return to the early Islam or the Medinan period  (the Salafiyya movement is precisely a return to the “early fathers of Islam” referring to the Medinan Period)..  Any departure from the practice of the early Islam is considered “haram” or forbidden.  This is an ideological and paradigmatic approach of Wahabbism is the singular reason for the decline of Islam that reached its pinnacle of enlightenment during the Umayyad era that merged the ideas, philosophy and innovations by way of adaptation to the wisdom and knowledge of the great civilizations of the Greek, Latin (Rome), Indic and Chinese including the old Persian Empire.  With Wahabbism, the approach is, simply, to repeat all that happened during the Median Era or simply return to the past that condemns any changes and innovations!

No doubt, there is also the urgent need to address the underlying socio-economic and political realities (real or perceived) that reduce the vast majority of Muslims to poverty and powerlessness. Petro-dollars and all the beneficence of the God-given oil/petrol must again be considered as the “patrimony” of the Ummah. There is a need to engage rulers of these petrol-producing countries and sheikdoms that it is a scandal in the Islamic Ummah to have the opulence of brought by petroleum being enjoyed by few families and treat these opulence as family owned that can be dispensed with according to the whims and caprices of their sheiks, emir and king and princes.

There is a growing rejection of interpreting faith as something limited to personal and private sphere.  The exclusiveness of the billion petro-dollars and the prevailing politics of oil within the Ummah are not acceptable. The more enlightened Muslims should take the lead in asserting a more egalitarian and religious message of faith in the public sphere.  Believers, governments, NGOs and community of nations should challenge the use of the multi-billion petro-dollar and make the blessing of petrol/oil more responsive to the needs of the Ummah everywhere thereby establishng a more equitable economic growth and distribution of wealth within the Ummah. 

Is it not precisely the “reclaiming” of the public sphere that forms the concrete basis for the inter-religious dialogues among the peoples of the BOOK?  Ultimately, the dialogue of life and dialogue of action make us all, Believers of Living Faiths, partners not only in our critique of the earth and our relationships but also in that great faith “enterprise” of building a new earth and forging new relationships.

In conclusion… I quote Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ: “The age of nations is past. It remains for us now, if we do not wish to perish, to set aside the ancient prejudice of ethnicity, religions, nations, cultures, civilizations, and build the earth.”

Fr. Eliseo ‘Jun’ Mercado, OMI
Professor – Notre Dame University Graduate School & San Beda Graduate School of Laws




Monday, May 15, 2017

6th Sunday of Easter (A)


Readings: Acts 8: 5-8. 14-17; 1 Peter 3: 15-18; John 14: 15-21

Selected Passage: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14: 16-17)

Meditation: Jesus does not leave as orphans. He sends the Spirit, our Advocate, to be with us always until the end of time. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will remind us of Jesus’ teaching and command – the Love of God and the Love of neighbor.  www.badaliyya.blogspot.com

DHIKR SIMPLE METHOD

1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

5th Sunday of Easter (A)



Readings: Acts 6: 1-7; 1 Peter 4-9; John 14: 1-12

Selected Passage: Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." (John 14: 6-7)

Meditation: Jesus is our way, truth and life. Do we truly believe it and live by this belief?  Jesus is the gate to LIFE. In, through and with Him – we find life.

When we are afraid and unsure; when the sailing gets rough; when the signposts are blurred; and when we no longer know what to do… hold on to the belief that Jesus is our WAY and our TRUTH, and our LIFE.  www.badaliyya.blogspot.com


DHIKR SIMPLE METHOD

1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.


Monday, May 1, 2017

4th Sunday of Easter (A)



Readings: Acts 2: 14a. 36-41; 1 Peter 2: 20b – 25; John 10: 1-10

Selected Passage: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10: 9-10)

Meditation: Jesus is the gate to LIFE. In, through and with Him – we find life. The thieves and extremists come to destroy and to kill! By their fruits, we shall know them. Do they come to give and enhance life and well-being or they come to take away life and do harm to people and society? 

The Risen Lord is the TRUE Gate. He has come to give his life as a RANSOM for our sins and evil ways that we might be free from the slavery of sins and have life in great abundance. www.baaliyya.blogspot.com

DHIKR SIMPLE METHOD

1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.