There’s a lesson in the news reports of recent brawl monks about who got to stand where in at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem says Giles Fraser:
Pope Pious 9th was absolutely spot-on about how one defends the church. One defends it best by not defending it, by not being obsessed with it and instead by looking outward, looking towards the needs of the others.
Jesus said that only those who are prepared to loose their life will find it. The logic is counter intuitive. The more you give away the more you have. The more your focus in life is outside of yourself, the more your own soul will flourish. This is why the introverted piety of churchyness is, in the end, a complete betrayal of the message of the church – which is exactly what happened with those warring monks.
But surely also, there’s a lesson here for a huge number of us. For many of us do spend a great deal of our time and energy, at work and at home, defending some pathetic little patch of turf which, in the great scheme of things, means precious little. If we’re not careful we can easily find that we’ve invested our lives in battling for some shrinking space that is, ultimately, as inconsequential as the place of a monk in a procession.
How do we guard against becoming like this? The Christian answer is that that we find freedom from the ego’s ever narrowing obsessions by placing our centre of interest outside of ourselves.