I cannot read the Gospel from today without calling to mind the activist Valarie Kaur and her TED talk from 2017. Drawing from her Sikh tradition, she found a way of responding to the anti-Muslim sentiment that reached a height in the United States after 9/11 that she calls “revolutionary love.” When I listened to her TED talk after the January 6 riot on the Capitol, her words rearticulated eloquently what I understand as a Christian to be the meaning of the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. I felt the familiarity of her invitation because I understood it to be the invitation of Ignatian spirituality.
When confronted by an enemy, stand in wonder and curiosity. What is this person trying to express in what I hear as hateful and cruel? What wounds is this person nursing that is causing so much pain that they lash out violently? It takes revolutionary love—that is, grace—to be able to take a posture of wonder and curiosity that makes possible seeing the wounds of another, a seeing that can soften hearts even towards enemies. It is revolutionary love that makes possible the desire to tend their wounds because we remember that we too are wounded.
When I hear curiosity and wonder, I am reminded of the invitation of Ignatian spirituality to openness and receptivity to another—welcoming who they are in their complexity and brokenness. I am also reminded of the invitation to mercy, because we have been shown mercy and are called to make that mercy present in our compassion, even for our “enemies.”
- Where are you being challenged to show mercy?
- What does “revolutionary love” look like in your work for justice?
Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos is assistant to the president for mission integration at the University of Detroit Mercy. Her work as mission officer is informed by her training as a systematic theologian and spiritual director. She has been in Jesuit higher education for over three decades, with experiences at the Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) and Seattle University before joining Detroit Mercy.