Grudges

I don’t understand grudges.  During this past month, I have heard of various people in families, in churches and in neighborhoods who are not speaking to one another.  In each situation, one person offended another person and a disagreement ensued.  The disagreement was not resolved and hurt feelings and resentments grew. As a result of such grudges, families and friends are divided or don’t know which side to take, and a big mess is what we are left with.  How do you think our LORD looks at grudges?  Today I offer you my two cents’ worth, based on the Gospel of Matthew.

In Matthew 18: 4, Jesus tells the disciples that “The greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.”  Later in Matthew 18: 21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him?  Seven times?’  ‘No, not seven times,’ answered Jesus, ‘but seventy times seven…’”

 How much clearer do we need to hear the WORD before we just get over ourselves and start loving one another? Sometimes it is so easy to collect food for the hungry or donate to a clothing drive, both anonymous acts of charity.  Let’s not overlook the people in our own families and our own communities as they need our love, our compassion, our mercy, too.  Jesus told us to love one another.  He never told us we could be selective in that love.  It’s all or nothing, friends.  If we know that our grudges are causing another person hurt or pain, the merciful thing to do is to look for Christ in that person and forgive.  I know it’s not easy.  But being a disciple isn’t easy sometimes.  Take it to prayer.  Ask God to soften your heart.  Be merciful.  Let’s work on encouraging one another to be a little more merciful and a little less judgmental.

 

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Only Say the Word

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”785px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

We pray this prayer every time we go to Mass right before we receive Eucharist.  I don’t really know why, but this prayer has always been a favorite of mine.  It’s a prayer of humility, a reminder that I need to open myself up to the LORD and not hold back anything, that with GOD all things are possible.  It’s a very intimate prayer.  Even though it is spoken aloud and our voices are joined together as one common voice, each one of us carries so many things that are only known to us and to God.  For all of my adult years, this prayer has served as a reminder that even though I am far from where I want to be in God’s eyes, God will never forsake me.  I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I am humbled and comforted by this acknowledgement of God’s great mercy.

My mother used to say, “You cannot give what you don’t have,” and she was alluding to the fact that we need to love ourselves in order to love others, too.  In going a step further, I assert that the mercy I experience from God’s great love must then be shared by me with others.  I am called to extend mercy to whomever I encounter daily, including the good, the bad and the ugly.  Okay, before I risk offending anyone, that phrase is being used for dramatic effect only, so no haters on the “ugly” comment!  But that also means you and I need to view OURSELVES with mercy, too, and not just focus on the parts of ourselves that feel ugly inside.  We have all been created in God’s image and likeness, and “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Luke 12:48)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merciful dodgeball?

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” Pope Francis

After an ordinary Sunday morning at work, which for me also is an ordinary Sunday morning at church, I firmly believe that mercy more often appears in snippets rather than huge, dramatic events.  At least, that’s been my experience lately.  Yesterday was one of those days.  With the fear of sounding irreverent, sometimes a walk through the parish gathering room on a Sunday morning can feel an awful lot like a round of dodgeball in middle school gym class.  The phrases “Can I see you for a minute,” and “Did you get my email,” and “Can I tell you something” buzz past my head as I mentally go through the Sunday morning checklist and look for individuals I’ve promised to see during that little space between the two morning Masses.  I always fear appearing disinterested when, in reality, it’s usually just a case of not wanting to miss the people who have asked for a moment of that precious Sunday morning time.  I want to be good at my job, and sometimes in focusing on the JOB, I forget to focus on my RELATIONSHIPS with God and others.

But, yesterday there were at least a handful of encounters that were pure GIFTS.  These little merciful moments were not, by any means, in the same category as what we read of Pope Francis or so many social justice heroes right here in our community.  I didn’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked or do anything out of the ordinary.  In fact, I was really kind of snarky before the 10:30 Mass after I had been on the receiving end of someone’s sarcasm and my all-too-thin skin was still healing.  When our visiting priest spoke of letting God speak to us this week during the parish mission, I kind of dared God to give it God’s best shot.  I was not really looking for any miracles today, thank you very much.  (Please know I’m not particularly proud of that, but it’s important for me to be “real” in my blog…)

But after Mass, a few people approached me to share their GOOD NEWS of prayers answered, of a surgery with favorable results, of college students feeling happy at school, of upcoming trips with loved ones, and more.  They sought me out because I told them I would pray for them at one point or another or because in the past I’ve been a friendly face or a listening ear.  These encounters yesterday were in some ways, very much like hugs from God, a reminder that I am loved, that God isn’t done with me yet, that there’s much more work to be done here. Yesterday, I was on the receiving end of mercy and I have to tell you, it felt pretty darn good!  I hope you keep your eyes open for some merciful moments yourself this week, too.

 

Crosswalk

While setting out on a morning walk recently, I found myself in brief conversation with a man while waiting to safely cross a busy street.  Standing at the edge of a crosswalk where drivers often ignore the Stop for Pedestrians sign, there was a particularly good reason why the man was waiting before stepping out into the street.  He was visually impaired and grasped a long, white cane.  I said what came naturally, “This can be scary sometimes,” referring to the number of cars that drive by without slowing down.  His only reply was, “It’s even worse when you’re blind.”  At that moment, a simple crosswalk on a Saturday morning became a lesson in humility and gratitude.

“Humility, meekness, magnanimity, and love to preserve unity! These, these are the roads, the true roads of the Church. Let us listen to this again. Humility against vanity, against arrogance—humility, meekness, magnanimity, and love preserve unity.” ― Pope Francisthe Church of Mercy

 Let us remember to use each merciful moment of encounter with others to listen and learn, to grow into the sons and daughters of Christ we have been called to be.   There is still much to learn on the journey!