21 March 2017

For the Greater Glory

Abraham Lincoln once recited a line from the Gospel that has been quoted often over the years and especially recently. Lincoln delivered that line in a speech that he gave on June 16, 1858 as he accepted the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois that was held by Stephen A. Douglas. This speech is most remembered for Lincoln's quotation of the biblical phrase, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." (Mark 3:25, Matthew 12:25)

The Republican Party was being newly formed at the time by an odd coalition of folks whose only unity consisted in their abhorrence of slavery. The new Republican Party contained former members of the Whig Party who opposed slavery, members of the Free Soil Party, Democrats who opposed the Kansas Nebraska Act, former members of the "Know Nothings Party who viewed slavery as a threat to political freedom, and abolitionists who sought a political outlet for their hatred of slavery. It was Lincoln's task to pull these different groups together in order to build a consensus strong enough to hold the Union together. We are now at another point is history when our Union is becoming divided against itself, but what is the solution to save us from so much civil strife?

I believe that the solution can also be found in scripture.  Jesus says in Mark 12:31 and Matthew 22:39, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Yes, of course, that is easy for us to say, especially when we speak from a high horse or a high pulpit. As a practical matter, however, what might be the mechanism for the change in thinking that could result in such a change of heart? I found an answer in something written long ago by St. Augustine. Who wrote: “Love men, slay error; without pride be bold in the truth, without cruelty fight for the truth.” (Diligite homines, interficite errores; sine superbia de veritate præsumite, sine sævitia pro veritate certate.)

We must remember that we all make mistakes and that we will be judged by God as to whether the mistakes that we make are just errors without malice or if they are sins of omission or commission. In the meantime whatever mistakes that we perceive about others by using our five senses are either violations of societal laws or common errors, both of which may or may not be subject to temporal punishment depending upon the power and authority of the court that does the judging including the court of public opinion.

Time and again we see people who worship the same God yet hate each other. We also see patriots from various political parties who profess to love their country but do not love people who are not just like them and so there are people of different races and denominations who hate each other. The solution therefore is to hate error but love people. How? Through empathy, education, and charity toward all. By understanding that most hatreds are rooted in humiliation, envy, and fear brought on by ignorance. If the United States is truly “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” then it should carry the seal of God which is Truth. Our task is not to tear down but to build up, to build a consensus based upon unity in spirit, “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” - “For the Greater Glory of God” (the motto of St. Ignatius, The Jesuit Order, and Pope Francis).


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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.