I will hold you. I promise. Have you ever felt this? Has your heart imagined, touched, fallen into the arms of, embraced the offer of such a promise? This is the promise Jesus offers to us.
Sometimes my little five-year-old daughter Rose crawls into bed with me at night. She calls me to turn over and face her. She curls up her little body beside me. She gently lays her hands on both of my cheeks. And then, softly, slowly closes her eyes…I will hold you. I promise.
God offers us these moments of intimacy, especially in times of brokenness, in order to draw us into deeper communion with his promise. In the readings, Moses calls the people to observe God’s ways with all our heart and soul. God promises to raise us up as a sacred people. God will hold us. The web of loneliness, fear, and death do not have the last word, nor the ultimate power…I will hold you. I promise.
When we feel and know this, we become increasingly capable of loving not merely those who treat us well; but also, those we struggle with and even our so-called “enemies.” Jesus offers us the intimacy and the icon for this way. Thus, we can become children of God who makes “sun rise” and “rain fall” on all people. Loving our enemies is like the sun rising as we illuminate the sacred dignity of all people, and show what it means to act in accord with our own dignity. Loving our enemies is like rain falling as we usher in a way of healing and mercy that breaks the chain of dehumanization.
This way of creative nonviolent action often works in amazing ways, yet at times it can be quite risky for us and others. In the immediate moment, it may or may not work out how we have hoped. Suffering or death may occur. Yet, we can trust this way is working in broader, deeper, long-lasting, sustainable ways because sacred dignity and mercy are breaking through to draw us together…I will hold you. I promise.
Eli McCarthy, Ph.D., teaches at Georgetown University in justice and peace studies and serves as the director of justice and peace for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which is the national network of Catholic men religious leaders.