Monday, October 27, 2014

Joy Moves Like Sand

Image by S. Sepp
Wikipedia Commons
There are so many times when I've wanted to kick someone to the curb (metaphorically) for the ignorant things they've said about Christ or the Catholic Church.  Approaching people this way is like hammering a square peg into a round hole. The message might get through , but there would be a lot of breakage along the way.

The better option is to respond with love.  Love moves like sand through an hourglass. No matter how small the entryway, no matter how tightly closed the heart, love can work its way through those crevices and begin to build up, like the sand at the bottom of the hourglass.

Our first response is usually to take the devil's way. To holler. To outshout. To criticize or condemn (righteously, of course.) Satan loves conflict, because he's all about dividing and shattering relationships.

Try love next time and see what happens. It might not work right away, but as the reservoir builds up, soon love will become the dominant force.

Why not give it a shot? It worked for Christ.

And if you want to share the good news about how it worked, or complain how it didn't work (yet), I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Incredible Gentleness of God's Will

When we think about doing God's will, the images that come to mind are the extremes--St. Francis of Assisi who gave up all of his many worldly possessions, or the  Christian martyrs who gave up their lives, including 11 out of 12 apostles.  Or we worry that we will be ridiculed like the prophet Hosea or tested like Job. It's no wonder we  hesitate before offering to do only what God wills.

But God is very gentle with His creatures.

Today, I felt a strong pull to drop by our parish office. I chatted for a few moments with the single employee who had been left alone to cover for the day. From there, I was headed to the post office, and I offered to take the mail. She smiled with great relief, because she was going to have to take the mail herself after work. God wanted to give her a break, and He wanted to use me as His instrument.

Another time, I couldn't get it out of my head that I should walk up the street and visit an elderly neighbor. She was so happy to see me. She was moving to a retirement home and wanted to talk to someone not directly involved in the decision (her children) about her anxieties. God had called me to simply be there and listen.

There are so many saints who have been called to suffering, but if you read their stories, they were at a point in their spiritual life where they welcomed suffering to bring about greater good.

If we learn to listen to His voice, we can see many opportunities to do His will throughout the day, and most likely they won't involve torture or poverty.

He is the whisper, not the storm, and we are the voices and hands and feet that carry out His plan. It's an intricate plan with many small steps.

Don't be afraid of doing His will. He's a gentle God who will make it easy for us.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Dr. Who and God Have in Common

I was watching an episode of Dr. Who the other day. In this episode, the moon was a gigantic egg, and it was hatching. Human beings had to make the choice whether to allow a unique baby life form to live, or to nuke the egg and the enclosed life form and save humankind. That was the choice they thought they had to make, and Dr. Who wouldn't make it for them. At the last minute, they spared the egg. The moon hatched, and in its place, the life form left another egg, so the earth still had its moon.

There are so many analogies here: the value of unborn life, trusting in God, but what I really found interesting was the reaction of the character Clara.

Clara, the allegedly independent, spunky gal, was angry that she had been left to make the choice. No, she was furious. Here is the conversation, paraphrased.

Before the decision:

Clara:  Tell us what to do.

Dr. Who:   I'm not a human, and this is a decision that will determine the fate of human beings. This is too big a decision not to make on your own.

After the decision:

Clara:  How could you leave us? Why didn't you help us choose? You abandoned us.

Dr. Who: I respected you enough to let you make the choice.

Wow. That's exactly how it is with God.

The Creator of the Universe, the all-powerful Lord of all, respects us enough to let us make the ultimate choice--whether to be with Him forever or not.

And yet we rail against Him for our bad choices.

We consider the choice between Heaven and Hell unfair.  How could You be so cruel as to send anyone to Hell? Ahhh,  He doesn't make that choice. We do.  As Father Michael Schmitz points out, it's not a case of God sending you to Hell for (insert mortal sin here), it's a matter of you choosing (insert mortal sin here) over going to Heaven.

We want to be treated like grownups, but when it comes down to the tough stuff, we want the security and absolution of small children.

In past episodes of the program, the character Clara has been condescending to this 2,000-year-old genius.

How often are we condescending to God?  You came and told us what You wanted of us, and we keep second-guessing You, as if we know best.  Marriage? Sex? Life? The Eucharist?  We'll decide how far we'll believe You. We'll pick and choose what fits into our wants.

I seem to remember some people (and angels) from Geneses who had the same opinion.

The actors in Dr. Who are top-notch, but the writing over the past few years has gone to the dogs. Once in a while, you can find a nugget of truth in anything.