Thursday, January 26, 2017

Torn between two worlds

The day after the feast of Saint Paul, we celebrate two of his closest co-workers and friends, Timothy and Titus.   Two young men torn between two worlds.   One was a man of a mixed marriage, Jewish and Greek.  The other a Greek as well.   They were bombarded with difficulties in their lives both from society itself, and even in the Church.  The reality of it is that while the Church is Divine, she is also Human, just like the Messiah Himself.  So Paul urges them on in his letters to be peaceful, patient and loving.. but to stand up for their faith.

Last night I met a man in the parking lot outside of the Church.   It wasn't our first encounter.   He actually scared me by talking right behind me in the dark.   He apologized for scaring me of course, and then went on to tell me about his problem.   He had a jug of milk in his hand.  He seemed very proud of that jug.  He had gotten it himself he kept saying.  The problem was he didn't have any cereal.  He just wanted some cereal to eat with his milk.

There I was, torn between two different mindsets, two different worlds.  On one hand, we encourage people to "not let their right know what their left is doing."   That is give without thinking of where the money is going to go.   Here was an opportunity to give from what little I do have.  I knew I had some money in my wallet. I had planned to go to the store and grab a snack with it.  I had an hour to kill and that's the very reason I was in the parking lot heading out in the dark.   The other world tugged at me saying, this man has asked you for money before, again and again.  How many times have I heard others proclaim: "You don't know what he's going to do with that money."   "He's just going to buy alcohol!"  "How will he ever learn to help himself?"

Patience.   Love.   Faith.   I took a moment to truly look at him.  I noticed his beard was dripping with the cold rain.  He's hands were shaking from the low temperatures.   This jug of milk had obviously become heavy from whatever distance he had carried.   I was overwhelmed with love.  I gave him money and told him to get some cereal.  Like Timothy and Titus we are all torn between two worlds.  The world that tells us we should take care of our own, our selves, before we serve others; and the calling of Christ that says "What I have done in washing your feet, you should do for each other."

Today's Gospel reminds us that we are infused with the Light of the Holy Spirit.  In that moment in the dark, cold night I was given a chance to take my light and hide it under a basket.   To keep that money for a snack for me, a snack that when you look at me I clearly don't truly need.  Jesus reminds us that with "what measure we measure, will be measured to me."  Not all of us are called to be Bishops and Apostles, like the Saints we have celebrated the past days, but all of us are called to be Servants to a hurting world.   I could have just prayed for this man, as I have done in the past.   I could have told him to come back next week when Father got back.  I could have honestly told him I can't afford to help you.   Saint James tells us If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?

Don't hide your light.  Don't take your gifts and bury them in the sand.   Invest them in each other.  Give freely of your heart.   Give freely of your love.   Don't be afraid of being hurt, or what others might do with your gift.  Remember that nothing that is hidden will not be made visible, and that includes the contents of our hearts and minds.   Will this man be back for more?  Probably.   All I know is that for one moment I was able to let Christ shine into the darkness of that cold night.  Not to lift me up.  Not to make me more boastful and ego filled.   Not for my own sake, but for someone else's... and that's what we all have to hope for.

In a world filled with conflicting thoughts, opinions and lifestyles; our children are stuck between two worlds. One world encourages them to life a life of hedonism, a life of false freedom, in which they do whatever their hormones and desires tell them to do.   The other tells them to follow Christ and deny those things inside them their hold on them.   It's up to us to reach out to them, to show them that a life with God at the center is one of joy, of hope, and of charity.  Saint Paul says we are given a spirit of power, and love, and self control... does our life shine that?

His servant and yours,

A reflection on the readings for the Feast of Saints Timothy and Titus, January 26, 2017.