A couple of articles have been published in recent years about terrorist suicide bomber Saeed Hotari.
There was nothing traumatic in all that. I was never much traumatized by my being shot at I don’t know how many times over decades and the ten thousand other “incidents” any one of which might throw someone into a trauma-recovery program, say, in North East Virginia, say, at Wolf Trap or at Liberty Crossing Campus. As I’ve often said however, bullets buzzing by one’s ears are certainly memorable.
In that more recent article linked above I mentioned that I carry. It’s a Glock 19, chambered. I like the Serpa Blackhawk OWB, for convenience, my stupid record (as I’ll never repeat that again) is 1.01 seconds for 2 to the “body” (spine) 1 to the head (brain-box) 25 feet out from the holster. Being in a state of prompt readiness to protect the innocent from unjust aggression is a virtue related to justice. Just to say it, mercy is a potential part of the virtue of justice, as Saint Thomas Aquinas points out in his commentary on the Sentences. Providing justice is a mercy. Yes.
I received a very clever comment on that more recent article. At first glance I thought this was a denunciation of carrying a Glock. But it’s not that at all. I didn’t let it out of moderation there as I wanted to give it a bit more visibility. I include my interlinear [comments]:
- “We cannot rely on our own ability to fight evil [she’s referring to Peter slicing off the ear of Malchus when Jesus is being betrayed, as we’ll see momentarily] but must depend on God. [I agree.] How often we forget our survival is totally dependent on God. [Hey! I forget all the time, you know, not having the beatific vision and all that. Yep. I agree. I want to go to heaven!] Eventually we all learn [well, some of us] that the unstable world [crux stat dum volitur orbis: let’s just call it a fallen world and figure this out] cannot be the source of our security, of true peace of heart. [“My strength shines out through your weakness” – Jesus to Paul] I’m interested in how you square your essay with Luke 22:51. [I’m paraphrasing because of bad translations, but Lk 22:51 is this: Jesus said: “All of you let me do this!” And He touched the ear of (Malchus) and healed him.] Your words make it sound like you live your trauma recovery [with me being Malchus and all… (adn with trauma recovery being a very technical term betraying much background in the same] in a state of protection with a clenched fist. [That is, not trusting in God and full of fear, whereby Malchus steals Peter’s sword and I forge it into a Glock. Very clever, that. And lots of work to be able to spit that out just like that. There’s no way out except like this:] Meanwhile another hand, not yours or mine, reaches out in the Eucharist. [See top picture on the Eucharist. And I agree with that, to a point.]
Malchus was an enemy, a servant of the High Priest, literally dead set against Jesus. Malchus learned from the mercy shown him to be sure. It being that I’m the Missionary of Mercy of the High Priest, Pope Francis, maybe I too should learn something of mercy. But is carrying a tool to protect the innocent from unjust aggression a lack of mercy making me the enemy of Jesus?
Jesus was a special case. His reprimand not only to Peter but to all the Apostles (it’s a plural imperative) was not about the inappropriateness of what Peter was doing so much as it gave Jesus a moment to show mercy to the end. This was precisely like His reprimand to John the Baptist: Let it be so for now for the fulfillment of righteousness! When Jesus was baptized He was asking our Heavenly Father to treat Him as if were guilty of sin, not just like the charioteers and soldiers of Pharaoh who were drowned for their sin of enslaving the chosen people, but He was asking to be treated like He was guilty for having enslaved all in sin, all peoples of all times, from Adam until the last man is conceived. Jesus lays down His life, taking on the punishment we deserve for original sin and all our own rubbish, so that He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. The Apostles see this mercy with Malchus and off they go.
Is it wrong to protect oneself and others while trusting in God while doing this mercy? No. In fact, it’s a contribution to the virtue of justice.
Two points and excuse my theological language:
First of all, I don’t want any trauma recovery, particularly not anything from Northeast Virginia. Why not? Because I’m not traumatized enough, not yet. As some priest friends from Colombia told me, “We’ve done nothing; we’ve not lain down our lives for the brethren.” Get me away from all that is trauma recovery. If anything, my therapy will be to put my fingers into Jesus’ wounds in His hands and my hand right into the wound in His side, into His heart.
My saying, “My Lord and my God” will be my entire trauma recovery, good enough to take my right through torture and death. I deserve everything I get along the way of the effects of original sin and my own, including being available to the malevolence of others (there ain’t no Glock that’s gonna stop that). And because Jesus laid down His life for me and called me to be His priest, He deserves that I un-clench my fists so as to Consecrate His Body and Blood at Holy Mass, so as to provide Absolution of sin, so as to Baptize, so as to Confirm… Yes. But I still carry. In calmness. Tranquility. You know the drill: “Carry! And carry on!”
It is no trauma to follow up on Jesus’ invitation: “As the Master, so the disciple.” Why not? Because His strength shines out through our weakness. His love carries us in the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.
Let me give an example. This very morning, while that lady wrote her comment, I myself at the same time was being stripped of my carry and locked in jail. I’m out now, obviously. But you have to know that I feel most at home among sinners like Malchus because I’m so like him. I make lots of friends in jail. I have a Bible study with the guys every week. I love it. What a joy. And I gotta say, lots of the guys are much better prepared in the Scriptures than were my seminarians anywhere around the world. Truly. I love it. We help each other out to get to know the Lord. Believe me, no protection or clenched fists inside the stone walls. No, no. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about putting that ear back on Malchus. And about letting that ear get put back on me by those, you know, “sinners” and all that.
But, hey! Not to worry my interlocutor comment friend. Maybe you can help me with a bit of trauma recovery after all. There are some adjustments to the “recovery program” that I’m on – if you want to call it that – (DS or DipSec might have another name for all that), adjustments which I would like to be implemented, but I won’t write about that or say it over the phone. I need an in-person interview with someone, say, I don’t know, just up from the Rosslyn metro stop, maybe at the Campus… Can you swing that, maybe with CCS oversight? That would be really, really cool. Seriously, if you want to help me, that would go a long way.