10/22/2010

The Last Battle


"Have compassion: everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." (Plato)

To what struggle does Plato refer? I think he speaks of the battle between judgment and forgiveness, the apocalyptic battle at the end of time, which is always Now.

This battle constantly engages me. I cannot serve both sides. I am either a serf under the old empire of judgment, or I rebel to live free in the land of forgiveness. A heart that forgives much, yet reserves some judgment for its "worst" enemies, is a traitor to itself.

Lord of Love, give me the strength to choose forgiveness, even if my battle ends with unconditional surrender!

Pictured above is a detail of The Dying Gaul, from Rome's Capitoline Museum. It's one of many versions of the dying Gaul, a figure that seems to have gripped the imagination of the late Roman empire. As evidenced by the cord around his neck, he is a slave. Once a conscript into the army of the empire, he joined the rebels, returned to his tribe, fought naked against his masters. Eventually, his people will defeat the empire. To them belong the future, but at the cost of this warrior's personal death....

St. Paul writes, "In my weakness is my strength." The Gaul dies naked, alone on the field in the evening of battle, and defeated. Yet he radiates an unspeakable majesty. For as he surrenders to his Source, he knows that he is free.

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