The burden of love

“Love God from the depths of your heart and Jesus His Son, Who was crucified for us sinners.  Never let the thought of Him leave your mind but meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Cross and the anguish of His mother as she stood beneath the cross.” – St. Clare of Assisi

As I write this reflection, the people of Georgia and of the entire human nation wait and watch as the Supreme Court works to rule on the execution of Troy Davis.  That we live in a society, which maintains that justice is achieved by killing a human being, is deeply troubling.  The rule of law fights in our hearts with the rule of compassion.

That is not to say that the rule of compassion is clear-cut or easy to discern.  Two mothers must be feeling great anguish tonight – the mother of Troy Davis, convicted of murder and condemned to die, and the mother of Mark MacPhail, the victim who clearly led an honorable life of service, first in the military and then in law enforcement.

Earlier this week, I sat in a meeting with my diocesan bishops, one of whom made the following statement, paraphrased here: “As Christians and priests, we live in a world where either the law of judgment prevails or the law of grace prevails.  I always err on the side of grace.”  He made this comment in the context of a conversation about baptism – which pales in comparison to the undeniably problematic death penalty.  But, to err on the side of grace, I think, is a good “rule” to follow.  Especially when no physical evidence has been provided and so many witnesses have recanted or changed their stories.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides this evening, how do we move forward?  How do we move forward in love?  St. Clare of Assisi offers this:

“Let us pray to God together for each other for, by sharing each other’s burden of charity in this way, we shall easily fulfill the law of Christ.”

(Bleeding heart image from

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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