The missionaries live with the poorest of the poor. This district is too dangerous for a white man to step beyond the barred and razor-wired compound; it makes me think of a military zone in Afghanistan or Iraq. Not bombs but rock and rap assault our convent and homeless shelter. The locals typically replace the back seats of their little cars with massive speaker systems. They ride through our neighborhoods with windows down, or they park on our streets with doors open, assaulting us with obscenely loud “music.” A truck depot backs up against our southern perimeter, and at times the music from employees’ cars thuds through our walls, shaking the windows in chapel and bedroom. Every so often I look up from my book: it is quiet! A momentary cease fire! I can hear the birds and the breeze. Then someone will drive by and unload another barrage at us.
Consider the Scriptures today. From Hosea, Yahweh is deeply hurt at the rejection of his child Israel, but doesn’t react angrily: “My heart is overwhelmed [but] I will not give vent to my blazing anger…I am God, not man.” St. Paul preaches the “inscrutable riches of Christ,” that Jesus may dwell in your hearts, that you may “know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge.” And the Gospel. The Gospel! It is the crucifixion, the most irrational act of violence ever committed, and the soldier cuts open Christ’s heart. Out of this open heart pours, not venomous anger, but blood and water—the very substance of human life. His heart pours life into those who destroyed his life.