As we go through life observing the world around us, we see many things that are destructive. Dams break and flood valleys. Cancer attacks our vital organs and calls us early to Judgment. Speeding automobiles spew out death, especially on long holiday weekends. Pain and suffering are all around us. However, none of these terrible things can generate the pain, the suffering, and the destruction as does human hatred- this frequently present aberration in the human psyche where one person or a group of persons or an entire nation develops tremendous dislike, antipathy and hatred for other persons or groups.
Psychiatrists have studied for years trying to figure this sad reality out but it is all really fairly simple. Most of us are uncomfortable with people or things that are different and when we are confronted by those differences we sometimes seem to react with fear. Since we can’t admit to ourselves that we are frightened, then sometimes we kick in another response which is hatred.
Would that all too vigilant, self-appointed night watchman have shot that young black teenager on his way home from the convenience store if he did not already have hatred in his heart for people who are different? I don’t know but God does. The American officer who shot men, women and children in that Afghan village – could it have possibly have happened at home in his own neighborhood? I doubt it. I am not judging the poor man. That is God’s chore. However, I do think that an enormous amount of damage is generated day-by-day, year in and year out, by people who allow hatred to develop in their hearts for different groups of people.
We are called to be loving people. We are called to respond to God’s love and we respond to God’s love best by manifesting it ourselves in our dealings with those around us. Let’s pray today that we can continue the never-ending task of lessening hatred within our ranks.
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September 11, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The texts in today’s Mass point us forcefully towards the need to develop within ourselves the virtue of forgiveness. The Gospel is wonderful. It is all about an evil servant who, although he is forgiven a great debt by his master, turns on a fellow servant who has failed to repay but a pittance that was owed. As good as that is, I prefer to touch on the first reading from the book of Sirach, which speaks beautifully and poetically to the need to be forgiving persons. Sirach tells us:
“Wrath and anger are hateful things and yet the sinner hugs them tight.”
Isn’t that marvelous? Don’t we all know people, and maybe even occasionally ourselves, who hug tightly to our anger and hate instead of letting it go, and experiencing the joy and freedom that comes with forgiveness. The text goes on,
“The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance for He remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbors injustice and then when you pray your sins will be forgiven.”
In my opinion, one of the keys to day-to-day happiness is not carrying about anger and bitterness inside our minds and hearts. Today, the voice of Sirach leaps across the centuries and tells us that we need to try to do the same… although today in particular, forgiveness can be very challenging.
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The Catholic Church is the largest voluntary membership organization on the planet. It’s organized in at least 180 different nations. It’s story stretches back 2000 years, and it strives on a daily basis to educate millions of young people to care for other millions of sick and elderly people. It overall is given credit for extraordinary activities for the betterment of the human family.
Why do so many people hate it? I find that a fascinating question, and I’d like to talk about it for a half dozen blogs or so. To begin with, I will divide those ill-disposed into Catholicism into two major groups: those who dislike one or another aspect of Catholicism due to some regrettable misconception or misunderstanding of an aspect of the Church, and the second group (I’m not sure which is the larger of the two groups) is one who’s hostility and anger is generated by incompetent, mismanaged or merely stupid policies emmanating from the Church itself.
Let me start with the first group. Tune in on Friday and I’ll endeavor to explain why the Catholic Church usually restricts the reception of the Eucharist to its own baptized and committed members.
Hold your anger!
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Many times when we are reading sacred scripture the words and the ideas flow gently over us with soothing and gentle caresses. The sacred texts are loaded with sections about God’s infinite love for us and the need to respond to that love, and the courage we have seen in scripture in terms of both God’s people in the Old Testament and the New. Overall, it makes very easy listening.
Then comes today’s Gospel excerpt! There is Matthew having Jesus still up on the mountainside unveiling his overall teaching, most especially about God’s love, our need to love God and, because of our love for God, our need to love each other. It is in that context that in the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells us that we should not seek revenge but that we should help others in every way that we can, that we should lend to the poor freely. That is all easy enough but he doesn’t stop there. Jesus tells us that we must “love your enemies…pray for our persecutors.” This is not easy but it is absolutely logical.
Human beings are creations of God’s infinite power and are part of his overall purpose. All of us are invited to eternal life. That means, regardless of where we are politically or theologically, we are journeying together. Everyone is our brother and sister. We are not in a position to judge or complain about the evil qualities that we think we see in another person that cause us to be their enemy. We are in a position, however, to pray for each other as we journey together towards Judgment. It is not easy but he never promised us a rose garden!
Remember, he said love not like!
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The week between Christmas and New Years is not all that productive for most of us. For that reason, I am going to take off for a few days. However, my editor refuses to release me of the responsibility of saying something on the blog, so I am going to take a shortcut and borrow someone else’s work…
I was given a beautiful series of pictures from Norway with simple sentences on the bottom of each one. They are described as lessons in our life and I think that most of them, although obvious, are very meaningful. Here are a few more snippets while I continue on the road.
Life isn’t fair but it is still good.
Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
Make peace with your past so it wont mess up the present.
It is okay to let your children see you cry; it is better to let them see you PRAY.
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