Sometimes transformation and legacy can only be understood in retrospect

 During a bible study session, the words in the Collect for The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost prompted some reflection. “…for You never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of Your loving-kindness …” The puzzle is: How does this prayer reflect on the Jews and the holocaust?

 Actually this invites reflection on the entire history of the Jewish people – a history punctuated with suffering and persecution throughout the centuries.

 What kind of transformation and what kind of legacy can be seen in this experience? I suggest a look at the whole Judeo-Christian tradition, and by extension, western civilization. Ironically they are the very source and instrument of Jewish persecution and suffering.

 Is Judeo-Christian culture or western civilization superior?

 Not at all; lest we succumb to the temptation of labels of “us” against “them”.

 However, there is a lot of good in Judeo-Christian heritage and western civilization which is a source of pride for some and even envy by others. This explains why the late Pope John Paul II was so dismayed that the European Union constitution did not explicitly acknowledge Europe’s Christian heritage. It would similarly explain some politicians’ misguided desire to forcibly impose those values on others.

 In this reflection, Paul’s words in the Epistle Reading for this Sunday, elucidate on how this legacy is forged ahead: “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited….in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distress; in beatings, imprisonments and riots, in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness…” (2 Corinthians 6:3-13).

 That, to me, is the process of transformation and the legacy of centuries of suffering: It can only be understood in hindsight.

 

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