Skip to main content

In God's Holy light: Wisdom From the Desert Monastics

Abba Anthony said: “The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane, they will attack that person saying: ‘You are insane because you are not like us.’”

God speaks in many tongues and to every color and age of people. It is not ours to decide where God’s favor lies. But it is ours to see as a spiritual task the obligation to come to our own opinions. We are not to buy thought cheaply. We are not to attach ourselves to someone else’s decisions like pilot fish and simply go with the crowd. We are meant to be thinking Christians.

Religious persecution of blacks and Irish and Protestants and women and gays and Muslims, just because it is the tenor of the time, is to our eternal shame. To make these things acts of faith, which we have over time, all of us and each of us, is the greatest infidelity to our Creator God. It is the very kind of rejection that ranged against Jesus. He was a Galilean. And he had the gall to speak up for Canaanites and lepers and women and Samaritans and the poor and the stranger in the land. He refused to bow to the social pressure that comes with being “other.” So they cast him out of the pale of his religion; or, like Nicodemus, snuck in to see him only at night; or in the square called, “Crucify him, crucify him, crucify him!”

And Jesus left to all of us the obligation to speak up on issues that threaten to erode our humanity. To speak out for the innocent and oppressed. To speak on, however long it takes and whatever the pressures ranged against us. To speak up when we hear around us the strategies of those who would balance the national budget by denying the hungry food stamps, and children good education, and the unemployed and underpaid decent lives, and the strangers in the land a way to become community.

Our obligation is not to be like those who would secure themselves by making others insecure. Our obligation is to be like Jesus. And that is anything but insane.

—from In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Joan Chittister (Franciscan Media).