Monday, December 03, 2007

words from merton

The Merton Reflection for the Week of December 3, 2007

Unfortunately, the true Christian concept of love has sometimes been discredited by those who have sentimentalized it, or formalized it in one way or another. A sincere subjective disposition to love everyone does not dispense from energetic and sacrificial social action to restore violated rights to the oppressed, to create work for the workless, so that the hungry may eat and that everyone may have a chance to earn a decent wage. It has unfortunately been all too easy in the past for the man who is well fed to entertain the most laudable sentiments of love for his neighbor, while ignoring the fact that his brother is struggling to solve insoluble and tragic problems.
Mere almsgiving is no longer adequate, especially if it is only a gesture which seems to dispense from all further and more efficacious social action. This is not always, of course, a question of genuine insincerity: but the "good works" that measured up to the needs of small medieval communities can no longer serve in the fantastic and worldwide crisis that is sweeping all mankind today, when the population of the world is counted in billions, which double in forty, twenty, and then fifteen years. In such a case, the dimensions of Christian love must be expanded and universalized on the same scale as the human problem that is to be met. The individual gesture, however commendable, will no longer suffice.

Thomas Merton. "Christian Humanism" in Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979: 124.

1 comment:

geoff and sherry said...

jodie, thank you so much for posting this (and other) merton quotes. every time you put one of these up i am stopped in my tracks by his insight.

in our meeting this morning at the high st house we were discussing just this issue of the scale of need in the world and how we christians can respond. it is a dangerous journey because we can fall into idealism or pragmatism...but i am glad to be making it with you and others in our community.

thanks again, jodester.