Tuesday, December 02, 2003


An Advent reflection from Liz Walz, who founded Martha House, a Catholic Worker house in the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1998. Shortly before that, she worked at Philadelphia's Four Seasons luxury hotel. She was imprisoned in Towson, Maryland, for direct action against the US military use of depleted uranium. This excerpt (c) TheOtherSide magazine. Liz is now the coordinator of Word and World: A People's School.

"Most of us try to protect our loved ones from pain. Is this loving? Or are we robbing them of their education, of access to wisdom? How can we acquire the tools for bearing pain, for enduring suffering, if we run and hide? How can we know God's love if we don't allow ourselves to need it?

"We have become numb. It takes the deaths of not one, not a score, not a hundred, but hundreds of thousands, even millions, to awaken us from our stupor--because we haven't learned to grieve the death of the one, to feel the pain. Who will confront the oppressors and say, "No, for God's sake!" What meaning does the birth of Christ have if not hope for those most oppressed?

"Pain is not the end of the story, nor is suffering. But to witness the end of the story, we must have courage to look with clarity at our situation. As the powers develop and deploy ever more sophisticated weapons, as the empire continues to starve children, our silence reveals us as complicit in the crucifixion of our brothers and sisters. Despair overwhelms us, and we'll try almost anything to stop the pain. But nothing works until we have the courage to walk into the melee. We must step into the line of fire, and love the squalling child lying in the muck of the feed trough, announcing to those who would kill her, "No! This is a holy child of God."

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