Deacon Blog March 30, 2019
I think a lot about Peter’s question to Jesus (Matt 18:21), “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother…7 times?” We know the answer was seventy-seven times seven…the perfect number for infinity. Really? When I read of a random killing or a careless accident that kills someone and could have been avoided with better choices, I wonder if I would be able to do this if it involved my loved one. And everyone is someone’s loved one. Yet, Forgiveness is a foundation of our faith, “formed and poured” on the very cross of Salvation. How can I question my own resolve here? My point is it highlights my need for further Conversion. When Jesus reveals the greatest commandment to “ Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength…and our neighbor as ourselves ”, HE is informing us that “our neighbor” includes someone who may do us harm or cause death to our loved ones. Without qualification HE forgave, from the cross, those who had tortured, betrayed, and crucified HIM.
I admit that a real temptation in life is to adopt an attitude of “wisdom” as we get older. Afterall, look at the experience we have, the perspective gained, the skills acquired. Who wouldn’t be wise after all this? (there should be a universal font or color for sarcasm). I argue it’s a fine line between developing wisdom, and blindness to other possibilities just outside our experiential vision. Let me give you an example. Suppose I bought a car from a plaid-jacketed, polyester-pants salesman and it was a lemon. My experience tells me to avoid this scenario in the future and to see it coming from a long way off. But what happens when GOD not only does not want me judging anyone’s appearance, But !!! wants me to be “re-payed” for the previous transaction? The skill GOD may be wanting me to acquire is the ability to see Jesus in everyone. Now you may ask yourself, “Does GOD involve Himself in car buying decisions?” and I say, “if HE counts every hair on our heads, you bet”., And if HE desires the conversion of our hearts…which HE most definitely does. Notice I say “desires” not “wills” conversion.
I bring this up because we can have a “born again” mentality that tells us professing to follow Christ, or faithfully attending MASS is the “only” decision to be made. As Christians, as missionary disciples, this cannot be possible. There are too many instructions by Jesus to Love as HE loved, to forgive as HE forgives, and to serve as HE served (See Matt 25). As believers, we have a Savior who “picked up the tab” for our salvation. That was HIS work. As followers of Christ, forming the desire “do the will of the one who saves us” is our work. We are called to walk, not squat, on a path of holiness. Does this happen because we “profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior”? Not in my experience. We might as well say “I got what I came for…I’m outa here”. Just like my opening above implies, it involves each stride in a commitment to conversion. This is what the Christian life is all about, especially during Lent. That which should be a year-round, daily effort gains a specific focus for the forty days leading up to the celebration of GOD’s Mercy, Easter. Every Easter morning we should celebrate like never before because of what our on-going conversion reveals to us… that we were never meant to die. It’s about our promise to imitate Christ, gratitude for Divine Mercy, and service to the Divine life.
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