We in the Church know just how to push the righteous buttons and get a whole herd of people worked up!
Our poor Shepherd.
Sometimes it seems like Jersey Shore is just a hair-heightened version of what goes on in parishes all the time!
Okay, clearly I’m kidding. I’ve never even seen Jersey Shore! But I live in a retirement community.. Not under a rock! And of course I know that it’s not like we’re doing body shots at coffee and donuts. (Right?..) I’m just reflecting on some “holy” conversations I’ve had in the past 10 years in the name of "indirect fraternal correction".. Whew! Stating that I’ve said, “Oh my gosh, okay, let me tell you about what happened after Adoration last week..” less than a million times would be an understatement.
In all seriousness, I find that sometimes the longest running grudges or grievances are between pews! Am I right?
“If she signs up to bring VBS snack one more time, I’m just going to cross
her name off! She KNOWS we have peanut allergies in the 3A class!”
“You know he’s forgotten his Holy Hour like four times? Oh yeah.. At least!”
“She totally took over the Mother’s Day luncheon committee!
I mean, yeah, everything got done, but that’s not the point!”
Of course.. As the great Judy McDonald points out, we usually end it all with, “So, pray for her, you know?”
We gossip about the gossipers and feed the hungry-for-a-spectacles. There’s so many first stones being thrown, it looks like the invention of the dodge-ball game. (Shoutout to all my fellow Youth Ministers!)
Then on the flip side, we have people who make innocent mistakes and we throw Matthew 18 right out the window!
I think this is one of the most-frequently-needed verses in the whole Good Book!
15 “If your brother* sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. 16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Doesn’t this provide protection for OURSELVES too?
I think most of the time we are annoyed by things that we don’t fully understand. Jack Nicholson was only half right.. We can’t handle the truth because we don’t have it. AND, (gasp!) we might possibly not even need it!
We don’t need to know why someone has a weakness. But GOD needs to know that we’ll bring His loving strength to them!
We don’t need to know the background story on someone’s mistake. But GOD needs to know that we’ll show them his forgiveness!
We don’t need to know the gory details of someone’s habit of sin. But GOD needs to know that we’ll be a source of grace as they try to get out of it.
That whole childlike wonder thing is so easily said, so rarely achieved. And how the evil one must laugh (maniacally, of course, although I think it would be totally appropriate for him to have a little weasel laugh) when we form teams within the Church, forgetting that we all wear the same jersey.
“The woman didn't even know what a foam finger was!"
“People will just wear ANYTHING to games nowadays!”
“I can't stand sitting by her.. She sings the fight song totally off-key!"
Those are as far as my sports analogies go.. I’ll try a real life story:
I remember having a bad semester at college and, when coming back to the group I was supposed to work with on a class project, my tail between my legs, I began, “I’m so sorry. I know I haven’t been pulling my weight! I’ve been having a difficult time and I –“ One girl stopped me. “Caitie. It’s really okay.” She said with a warm smile. “I know we can work this out! Here is a list of some things you could do and we’ll catch you up. Is there anything we can do for you?”
Now, if I can only be this image of Him to others..
Oh! You too?
Let’s do this.