Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In the same night,
One turns Jesus over to the authorities, and the other denies Him.
They both betray Him.
One humbles himself, and seeks repentance and forgiveness.
The other dies in his anguish.
One is buried with dogs. The other is buried in Rome.
Judas the betrayer,
Peter the rock.
I heard a news story about some of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors and victims. It talked about how they are coping with the tragedy. How they are helping one another, and receiving help from friends. During the story an observation was made that some of the families had connections before the bombing that they hadn’t realized, and one of the men made the statement, “We’re closer than we think we are.”
Last night was the Chrism Mass in the Amarillo Diocese. All of the priests, deacons, religious, and laity came together to show support for the priests. The priests renew their baptism vows and a vow to the bishop, and the bishop blesses the oils that will be used at all the parishes in the diocese. It is a beautiful ceremony that has happened for centuries.
A woman sat down beside me, and we greeted one another. She was visiting Amarillo on retreat, and she was Santa Fe, New Mexico. Teague leaned over and told me that she recognized her. On drive home, we decided that we must have seen her at mass in Santa Fe sometime.
St. Mary’s Cathedral was full. There were many people that we knew, and many we didn’t know. As we drove home late last night, I thought, “Why do we go? Why do we make this drive right after work and celebrate a two hour mass, and turn around and drive back home?” I’m tired this morning, and I have a full day ahead.
As we walked out of the cathedral, Teague asked if I had got to talk to everyone that I wanted to. I told her that was impossible, but I did get to see them even if from afar. That alone was enough. You see the Chrism Mass as is every mass is also about unity. The people united in Christ. Just our presence was a sign of that unity.
We are closer than we think we are.
Two natures beat within my breast,
One is foul, the other blest,
The one I love, the one I hate,
The one I feed will dominate.
I received this poem on a card when I attended at Walk to Emmaus. Yesterday, I was watching a Ted Talk titled “David Brooks: Should you live for your resume… or your eulogy?” In the talk, Mr. Brooks speaks as our two natures as Adam 1 and Adam 2. Adam 1 is bent on success, and Adam 2 looks at the deeper things in life and after life. Adam 1 lives for today; Adam 2 lives for eternity.
He says that one way to help develop our Adam 2 nature is to look deep in our past and identify and recognize that sin, that deep sin in our life. Once it is recognized and confessed, we are then able to grow from it. Our Adam 2 nature develops not from our strengths but from our weaknesses.
Before my first confession, the priest told me not to try and remember every sin that I had committed in the past forty years. He advised me to reflect upon the sin that I had committed and from where my other sins were rooted. As I reflected, I was taken back in time, when I was a young boy, and I remembered the sin I committed. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. At the moment I was doing it, it seemed to give me pleasure. That’s how sin works. It seems pleasurable for a fleeting moment, but it can scar you for the rest of your life.
But just like a wound that has healed. A sin that has been forgiven and healed can be your strength.
How can I forgive when I still feel the way I do toward that person? When I think about what they have done to hurt me, I feel anger, rage, bitterness, malice, and sadness. I can’t forgive them while I’m feeling this way.
The key is you. It’s not wrong to feel the way you do. Feelings are gifts from God. They are emotions that we have spontaneously inside us. Emotions are neither right nor wrong. They just are. Emotions should not be the decider in how we act. They are just a part of who I am. My will and my feelings are not the same thing.
Forgiveness like love is not a feeling or emotion. Like love, forgiveness is a decision. It is something that we consciously do. Jesus has shown us how to forgive. How do you think He felt when He was on the cross and the soldiers were casting lots for His garments? We might not know exactly how He felt, but we know what He did. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23: 24).
Jesus made the decision to forgive, and so should I.
Lent is behind us, and Holy Week has begun. Lent has brought us to remember, relive, and re-present the last week of Jesus the Christ. Today during mass, I spoke with the crowd, “Let him be crucified!”
Will I be there at the tomb on Sunday morning, when He has arisen?
Ten years ago, I couldn’t have even imagined all that I am a part of now. “Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20). Yesterday, I found myself talking to more than one person about the gifts that God has given me.
When I acknowledge that the gifts that I have are from God, and that I am using them for Him. I am giving credit where credit is due. At times, I have been worried that I might be sounding to prideful. Perhaps, it is really a false humility. “The true way to be humble is not to stoop till thou are smaller then thyself, but to stand at thy real height against some higher nature that will show thee what the real smallness of thy greatness is” (Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893).
During this time of Lenten reflection, I think I have discovered some additional gifts and ways in which I can use them. Where will I go from here? I wonder if ten years from now I will be doing something I can’t even imagine?
Altar and bible st Johns Lutheran.jpg
I first heard the term compassionate listening this past weekend in a deacon formation class. We were learning about Carmelite Spirituality. Carmelites try to practice compassionate listening. From what I understand, it is a putting away of my own feelings, thoughts, and judgments, and listening to understand. A listening with one’s heart.
I talk to a fair amount of people in one day ranging from family, friends, colleagues, and students, but do I listen to them? I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a conversation with someone, and I find myself mentally forming my own answer or solution instead of listening to what the other person has to say.
This morning as we were praying Morning Prayer I thought to myself, “Have I been listening to God compassionately as I read His Word?” It seems I always think I have a lot to say, but I think I have been missing out on all that I have to hear.