Deacon Blog Oct. 20, 2019
Kisses of Mercy
So, to follow up on last week’s blog, I feel it necessary to explore a point I never got around to making. In loving or being kind to one another, the whole effort obviously begins as thought. To merely tolerate others and their views is a bit condescending if we think about it. Jesus never used the word (as far as we know) Tolerate, as a mandate for allowing or putting up with behaviors or ideas we don’t particularly agree with. Nowhere does sacred scripture say “Tolerate others as I have tolerated you”…however justified that would have been. My point is that as we seek the conversion of our hearts, it involves the radical Jesus methodology of seeing the best in others…despite their behavior or ideas. I can’t think you a “scoundrel or idiot” but treat you as something different. Sooner or later my feelings will betray my actions and I will treat you according to my inner opinions. I am being hypocritical. How can we do this? We start by avoiding the judgements that find their way into our hearts. We can say to ourselves, “I don’t agree with that notion” or “I wouldn’t do something like that”, but avoiding thoughts like “That was stupid or ridiculous”…”They’re an idiot”. “They should make better choices”. This is judgement and it is the root of all disparaging feelings toward others…not to mention bullying. This is not LOVE as Jesus taught us. And HE is the JUDGE. When HE declares the religious authority to be a “brood of vipers”, HE refers to the entrapments they were setting for HIM. HE kn0ws our hearts, which we cannot know . And…trust me, we have ALL been that “other person” at some point. This is certainly not an easy thing to do, controlling our (sometimes sub-conscious) thoughts, but…it is critical to the efforts we make to find a sense of peace in our own lives. It is ground zero for “loving others as HE has loved us”. What is our jumping off point in this effort? Let’s look at a couple ways that are staples in Catholic teaching.
We are all aware of the practice of contemplative prayer. This effort speaks to the way we are best able to “access” the divine language spoken by our Creator. We cannot “know” GOD merely by having personal thoughts. They must be informed, and they must be filtered through some level of silence in the presence of the Holy Spirit. We read often, in the Gospels, of Jesus retreating to a private place to pray. When scripture calls us to a life of prayer it is more accurately translated as a spiritual dialogue or the sensation of the Divine presence. Here, it’s important to understand we have nothing to inform GOD of. Trust me, HE’s already aware of our “issues”. We pray as a means of surrendering our hearts, to learn trust, devotion and (most importantly) humility with HIM who created all things. We can and should ask for things, but with the knowledge that our Heavenly Father will provide only what is best for us. Try praying simply for GOD’s will to be done. It is impossible for us to walk a path of holiness, to seek an imitation of Christ, or…even professing to be a disciple of Jesus if we have hearts that persist in judging others. The way we “over-ride” these thoughts is to present ourselves into the presence of GOD and allow HIM to heal us, first, of this habit. Habits, I should add, that typically flow from some emotional flaw of our own. To clarify, an authentic walk with Jesus involves contemplation. It opens our minds and hearts to the will of GOD that is hidden in “casual relationship”. When we merely listen to a homily or read sacred scripture, it is not enough to simply hear or read the message and accept on the surface. These benefits are often short-lived (especially with my homilies). We must receive them into the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds, learning to surrender, in humility, our will to HIS. Try Lectio Divina.
It seems almost counter-intuitive in today’s society (where we consider ourselves so sophisticated and hip) but the awareness that we have in fact grown less aware and less attuned to the mind and will of GOD is dangerous. Spiritually, we are rapidly becoming very primitive and unintelligible about what our Creator desires for us. This is in-spite of the fact that so many incredible minds have come before us. Minds such as Augustine and Aquinas, Newman, John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Benedict XVI., and all the Doctors of the Church. We prefer, instead, a world where the wisdom of the Saints is largely ignored, where we “re-create” two-thousand years of understanding given to us by those who bless us with knowledge and insight aimed to grease each generation’s advancement to the Kingdom of Heaven. What we have done in our time, regarding human life, marriage, and social discourse scares me. If we want to understand the epidemic of bullying behavior among our youth today, we need only look at the behavior of the “adults” in our homes, in public, and in politics. Bullying is a “learned” environmental behavior and it is obvious and everywhere we look today. Television, internet, music, movies, and yes…unfortunately at times, the pulpit. Learning to “see” the best in others, even alongside or in-spite of questionable behaviors, is a place to begin. We CAN disagree with each other while loving and respecting them. We don’t have to accept their beliefs, merely respect the person who holds them. It is an active method of positive reinforcement of good behavior. Only GOD is merciful, but it is the presence of the Father working through us in merciful thought and action on our part. We can only learn this in silence with the Holy Spirit. Try sitting, alone, for five minutes in a quiet spot, reflecting on this in complete silence. Let it “soak-in” and see if you don’t experience some level of peace and (for me) rest from the rigors of judging others.
I recently read an article Fr. Matthew Wertin wrote for our diocesan newsletter. If you haven’t read it or are not on the list to receive it, I highly suggest it. It’s titled I Believe In Love (article #3 – Humble Confidence). To sum it up, it speaks of GOD’s patient, un-ending Mercy for HIS children. No matter how long it takes, no matter the infraction, no matter how persistent we can be in our errant ways… HE waits for us. HE waits for us? And when we come to HIM in repentance, HE gently bends down and kisses us HIS healing mercy. Healing wounds, I might add, that are self-inflicted. The next time you find some quiet time to contemplate things, visualize this. Experience the Kisses of the Father washing away our sins, restoring us to full being, filling our hearts with HIS life-giving presence. All HE needs is an invitation. HE’s that polite.
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
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