Thursday, August 11, 2016

But you don't count......

The other day I was having a conversation with someone about being Holy.   My friend Jamie loaned me a book about this topic (How to Be Holy: First Steps to Becoming a Saint, Peter Kreeft) and it has been heavily on my mind.  While we were talking a few other people joined in.   We were talking about struggling with sin.  At one point someone turned to me and said, "Yeah but you don't count."   As if being in formation for the Diaconate or being a very active Catholic in my religion made my struggles with sin and temptation less of an issue.   I think we have that image of Christ sometimes.  As if He was made in a way that made it easier for Him to be perfect, easier for Him to be Holy.

Ezekiel in his prophetic utterance this morning gave the people of Israel a glimpse of two futures.  One in which the city itself would fall into exile with the royal prince being cast out, and another in which the royal Son would be given the same treatment.   Jesus picked up his baggage and carried it out of the city.   Up onto a hill where the darkness settled in.  Some would dismiss this as a solar eclipse, mere coincidence.  I would chalk it up to creation itself mourning that which we did not see.  Like the prince of Jerusalem, Jesus was veiled to His people.  They could not see Him for their own sin, their own failures.   In a way, they said to Him as well, "You don't count."  

In Jesus parable again I see that theme.   The first servant goes to the judge and He offers him mercy.   The servant goes out into the world, a man who should be filled with joy at his fortune.   Instead, his greed kicks back in.   He wants to get back to where he was before.   Instead of sharing the mercy he has received, he finds someone who owes him money and begins to choke him.  He has him thrown into prison in anger.  When word got out the Master was furious and demanded an account of him.   It was as if the servant was saying "I am important enough for grace" but my fellow servant, well they don't count.  Them.  The other.  They... those guys over there... they don't count.

We as Christians are challenged to be Holy.  Not just me, not just the priests and religious, not just the holy rollers or bible thumpers... every single one of us is called to be a Saint.   To be like Jesus, to follow in His footsteps.   His footsteps are the way of the Cross.   That means shouldering our own crosses and marching out to our own deaths.   Now most of us aren't going to be martyrs.   Many of us are going to die in our sleep, in some way that isn't glamorous or extraordinary.   That doesn't mean "you don't count."   It means that God is asking us to die spiritually.. to our egos... to ourselves... to live our lives in a way that says to every single person we encounter "You matter."   To everyone of them, regardless of their station, religion, legal status, political party, sexual orientation, lifestyle, or what have you.   To say to them "As God has shown me mercy, so I show it to you."  Are you offering His love to others?  Or simply holding inside?

You count.  You matter.  You are Holy and loved by God.   Stop letting the enemy convince you otherwise.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for daily Mass on Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time, August 11, 2016.    Ezekiel 12:1-12; Psalm 78; The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 18:21-19:1