Word Warriors Go Boom
I don’t follow all of the Catholic bloggers. There are far too many. I am connected to a handful of bloggers, and through that connection am, at times, aware of when a blogger brouhaha has commenced. Usually what happens is that the Pope does something for which he is sharply and immediately criticized by one group, then vehemently defended by another. The comboxes and Facebook comments start to explode. Then it is on like Donkey Kong in a Catholic Cage fight of epic proportion. Such was the case this past week and boom went the word warriors.
Look, I get it. I am a writer, albeit a writer of none renown, my blogs only get like 30 views. But still a writer. We love words and we know how to use them. One of our most satisfying relationships is with our thesaurus. Which is why, by the way, another writer cannot say to me that they wrote a just the facts, ma’am article that didn’t set a certain tone. Just sayin’. We love a word battle and will enter into one, without a real dog in the fight, just for the sheer joy of the verbal sword play. And if at the end, having bested all comers with our intellect or witty word play we can triumphantly shout “Booya, schooled ya”…come on word warriors don’t tell me just the thought of that is not putting a tiny smile on your face if not downright giving you chills. When done well and charitably it is iron shaping iron, when done self-indulgently we are merely indiscriminately lopping off heads with a prideful disdain for the carnage.
Writers can certainly be self-indulgent. We write what jazzes us, hence my penchant for song lyrics. My kids tell me that those references are kind of dated. Which may be why my blogs only get 30 views. I am going to probably keep it up though because it gives me a kick and inspires my thoughts. My best hope is to hand it over to the Holy Spirit who can bring finesse to even a quirky propensity for outdated songs. Otherwise I am merely indulging in an idolatry of my own intellect and talent for words. Because that is some real power there, baby. Can you dig it? And pride will goeth before my fall.
So Satan, through pride, stirred up a word war and then kicked back and watched the fun. Those who did not engage, enjoyed the spectator sport of it…with popcorn. And all of us in a purple haze of self-justification were blinded to the fact that, when the dust settled, we were leaving nothing to the Holy Spirit but a battlefield strewn with headless corpses. Quite frankly the Holy Spirit does not want us bringing him people with their heads lopped off. But Satan sure does enjoy when we can’t see past the dust we have kicked up through our own passions. You have to ask yourself was anybody inspired, where they evangelized, were they catechized or did that boom backfire?
Then for me, though, along came another blogger, just blogging along doing his blogger thing outside of the drama. Through his writing, I was inspired by one word and one phrase. The word being dunamis and the phrase being “Boom goes the dunamis of the Kingdom of God!” Here is a link to that article. Dunamis being the Greek word for power of God or miraculous power, a root for the words dynamite and dynamic. Dynamite, dynamic dunamis. I realized that my job as a Catholic writer was not to pontificate my opinion using the power of my intellect and words to force others to acquiesce. It, instead, was to inspire and provoke thought in others in such a way that the dunamis of the Holy Spirit can do the heavy lifting. Because according to the scripture at the top of my piece, anything else is in vain.So I took a look at what started all of this in the first place, the fact that Pope Francis concelebrated a Mass with and kissed the hands of a priest who is reported to be dissenting with a teaching of the Catholic Church. And what I saw was that Pope Francis does indeed know how to let the dunamis of the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
He (Christ) humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8I know that for Catholics to kiss something often means reverence and respect. The priest kisses the altar, he kisses the Word of God after the Gospel, and we kiss the feet of Jesus and the Crucifix. So when the Pope kisses the hands of a priest we might interpret that as a sign of approval, for the man and his ideas. But at the same time I saw him kiss the hands of that priest, I saw another kiss from earlier this week when the Pope stopped to pray at and kiss the wall that separates Israel from Palestine. I absolutely know that kiss did not symbolize reverence and approval for that wall. And in my mind I also saw Jesus kiss his cross. I knew then that sometimes the Pope is kissing the cross and kissing with the cross. The humility of the cross, the obedience of the cross, the love, mercy and compassion of the cross, the justice of it. By so doing he is also, through humility, invoking the power of the cross. Dunamis, a power that is not inherent in us but only inherent in God, but is the only power that overcomes. It is this power, through love that was poured out at the cross by Christ, that the Vicar of Christ is employing to open hearts. And that is his job, as well as ours, to open hearts to the dunamis of the Holy Spirit so that they may be won for the kingdom of God.
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have stationed watchmen; never, by day or by night, shall they be silent. O you who are to remind the Lord, take no rest and give no rest to him, until he re-establishes Jerusalem and makes of it the pride of the earth. Is 62:6-7Many who are on the internet to blog or broadcast have felt and answered the call to be these watchmen. We are word warriors and at the heart of it we are defending the faith as we might see that it needs defending. But as is often human we rely on our own power, the power of our intellect and our words to win the day. We must remember… Unless the Lord guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch. The power of God is the only thing capable of truly reaching minds and hearts. Without it our intellect and our words have no substance or truth to inspire, to provoke, to evangelize, to catechize and to teach. Rather than the dynamic, explosive life giving boom of the Holy Spirit we implode with a boom of destruction.
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. Matt 28:18-2
Although dunamis was not the word translated as power in this verse. I think it still fits. Remember and believe as well in the power of the promise of Christ to be with us, with his Church, and with his chosen Vicar until the end of the age. And I remind you what he commanded us was this:
I have told you this so that my joy might be in your and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another. Jn 15:11-17
How do we keep that commandment? By remaining and abiding in the vine, the source of who we are and from where the power is transmitted to us. We remain in his love (Jn 15:9) We let our love of Jesus Christ, his Church and our love of others, through and because of Jesus Christ, open the door to their hearts…then the Holy Spirit comes in and does the heavy lifting. Let my love open the door to your heart. Oh, yeah, I went there. I went to love and used a cheesey song lyric to boot. Because sometimes there is where it is at. Sometimes there is where the dynamite, dynamic dunamis of the kingdom of God goes boom. Even for, especially for, us word warriors.