It’s easy to see the faults in others and feel frustrated. What about those Catholic teenagers who were proclaiming the need for “gay marriage” and laughing at those who support the sacramental nature of the marriage union of a man and a woman? Or what about the editorial writer in the newspaper who writes a column about a Zen master who abused women and uses this topic to condemn the Catholic priesthood? Say what?
Such things begin to raise my blood pressure a bit. But I had an insight this morning that helped me cope in a more productive way.
I was talking to the children about the importance of fasting, not just from candy but also from those behaviors that seem to take over our lives. We talked about what those might be…the video games, the urge to send out text messages, the need to have a cell phone handy at all times. Then, as I sat in Mass, I realized that seeing the faults in others is also a behavior issue…
It’s not that “we shouldn’t judge others” as some people like to say. No. That is relativism and it causes the blood pressure issue when people say, “Live and let live.” We are indeed called to point out errors in thinking. God uses our hands and words to be His presence in the world. As Dante wrote, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
Our world is in a time of moral crisis, so we cannot be neutral. But the behavior issue has to do with HOW we confront the world. We don’t have to lash out. We shouldn’t throw up our hands and say, “All is lost. They are idiots.”
The way we make a difference is to remember that, “There too, but by the grace of God, go I.” We aren’t all that different from the teens who are following the “politically correct” line of talk or the writer who goes from one attack to another. We are all sinners. The sins of others are in fact, a great reminder that we too are sinners. They need help; we need help. We are not morally superior.
The source of our help is the working of the Holy Spirit. Deacon Don Cupps just wrote a note to remind me that we are called to: 1) Do our part in the world, and 2) Trust that the Holy Spirit will bring that work to completion.
“After all,” writes Deacon, “The followers of Jesus traveled with Him for three years, and they still didn’t ‘get it’ until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Patience, patience.”
So this is my thought for Lent: Be clear about error and sin. Remember that we are all sinners. Be compassionate. Then speak out. And finally, trust in the Spirit to bring this effort to completion.
Copyright 2013 Judith Costello