The nineteen year-old young man who lies wounded in the hospital in Massaschusets acknowledges that he and his brother were motivated by religious fervor when they made bombs and exploded them in the crowded Boston marathon to kill and maim as many people as possible.
Some Christians with equal fervor will blame the young men’s fervor on their Muslim religion. These Christians should recall that the Old Testament of our holy book is replete with examples of misdirected religious fervor. The fervor flows over into the New Testament. Jesus and his martyred followers were put to death by persons whose religious fervor was intense and sincere.
Atheists and other well-meaning folks may use the example of the bombers to deride religious fervor. Who can blame them? We best admit to them that religious fervor is often miss-directed today. We see extreme examples of it in the three branches of the US government. Our society is satiated with religious fervency. What may be more ubiquitous is apathy toward one’s religion. The Old Fool laments apathy, but his topic is fervor and he both laments and celebrates it.
St. Paul was constant in his religious fervency. Before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his pharisaic fervency drove him to persecute Christians and to deliver them to their martyrdom. After he met Jesus Paul’s fervor redirected him, and kept him on his journey to the ends of his world to persuade as many as possible to believe and follow Jesus. Paul is a prime example of one who found it possible to change others and become a change agent. He wrote, “I am become all things to all men that I might be all means save some.”
If I recall correctly, it was David Thomas who said that he could not remember a time when he did not love Jesus. Jesus is worthy of fervent life-long love, for the Jesus way cannot be outdone for doing good. Sometimes Jesus was moved with compassion, a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it.
Jesus loves unconditionally, crossed barriers, and went about doing good. His enemies said that he loved sinners and ate with them. That accusation was wonderfully true, truer than what they knew.