Deacon Blog Oct. 13, 2019
A Better Christian
Last week we lost a unique and much “Loved” member of our parish family. You may wonder why Loved is in italics, and for good reason, but those italics are the subject of this week’s blog. It revolves around why we decide to love some, and not others, and what it looks like either way we go. Jesus gave us the command to love as He loved, and the model for loving others as ourselves, but reconciling these two ideas is not as clear-cut as we would like it to be, so I thought I would try to un-pack this a little. In fact, Jesus tells us that Loving GOD with everything we have, and our neighbor as ourselves sums up the entire “Law of GOD”. How’s that for clear and concise? We all want to live in a world where LOVE rules the day, but it obviously does not and I’ve often wondered why we struggle to express this to those around us, even family members sometimes. Afterall, who decides when and how we love but ourselves. It’s not as if some master puppeteer controls this emotion for us. We decide this for ourselves, so why is this so difficult?
The easy answer seems to be that some people are just difficult to love (don’t judge me). Seriously, it can be difficult to even tolerate some folks, much less love them. Regardless of our personal preferences, there are some among us who seem bent on irritating or intimidating everyone around them, including perfect strangers they may encounter. To be clear, I am not speaking of people we merely disagree with or seem to oppose on certain issues. I speak here of others in our world that are just hard to be around because of the way they make us feel or how they affect us emotionally. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked GOD, “Why is THIS person in my life?”. Especially if they keep me up at night, or disrupt my peace of mind. The obvious remedy is to remove these people from our lives. Avoid circumstances where certain people might be present, etc. I laugh (sadly) sometimes, thinking that our national political offices have become a “clearing house” for all those who enjoy irritating others. Going to Washington is the “Super Bowl” for these types who love to argue, intimidate, and annoy their “opponents”. We cull the orneriest folks among us, get them elected, and send them to Congress to act, on our behalf, in ways most of us would never dream of. “Oops…did say all this out-loud?”.
My point here is this, there are a lot of people either in our lives, or we view from afar, that we don’t really care for. We are “this person” for others. For most of us, we choose to be surrounded by anyone we can genuinely love and care about and it makes us feel good. This is good, without a doubt, but is it enough? Is Jesus only asking us to “love our nice neighbors and avoid the toxic ones”? In our parishes, do we merely include or socialize only with those we can tolerate, and was this Jesus’ example in HIS life?
These are things to reflect on for sure. Our dear friend who passed away last week was someone many avoided because she made them un-comfortable. Those of us who befriended her may have struggled to be around her, at times, but found enjoyment in her ability to make us laugh. She could be cantankerous and grouchy (occasionally), she had a definite “lean” towards the negative, but beneath all of it was a dear, genuinely sweet mischievous spirit that smiled when no-one was looking… but GOD. I close friend of mine used to say, “________ made me a better Christian” when speaking of our friend, and now I realize she was an instrument of GOD’s Grace, sent to us to remind us that not all things, just like our Savior, are packaged the way we think they should be. All it took to win her over was some wickedly good “mac & cheese”. It’s either the Father’s profound wisdom or HIS surgical sense of humor (or both) to “mess with us” in teaching such intimate and personal lessons. “Love your neighbor as yourself” leaves little room for wiggling around this commandment. In the processes of advocacy and social change, society seems to have forgotten this. Decency, ethics, and personal responsibility have been swept aside in the effort to “speak our truth” and “have it all”. Civil discourse is a relic of the past…in our society and our homes. It’s the “baby” thrown out with the bath water as we thought we were “cleaning up the swamp”.
What a beautiful gift Mary Jane Ellis was for us all. What Holy and Sacred lessons she gave us to remember and cherish when we think of her. Mary Jane was not “packaged” in a way we expect GOD’s gifts to look, but what a gift she was. I see her in Heaven now, healthy and unburdened, whispering to the Father, “How’d I do?”. “Did they get it?” With all my heart, Mary Jane, I want to be able to say YES!! Dios te bendiga mi Amiga
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
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