|Saints Isaac Jogues and John
Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 11
". . . when a man does nothing, yet believes in him who justifies
the sinful, his faith is credited as justice."
". . . what you have whispered in locked rooms will be proclaimed
from the rooftops."
Remember Eddie Hascal on the old "Leave It to Beaver" TV series?
Around kids his age and younger, Eddie was an obnoxious loudmouth. Around the parents, and especially when he was around Mrs. Cleaver, Eddie was a model of courtesy and respect. Funny thing, though: Eddie never fooled anyone, especially Mrs. Cleaver.
When I think about today's readings and their lesson about "being," as opposed to "seeming to be," I come to the painful conclusion that I'm a lot like Eddie Hascal.
I started writing this reflection while perched on a bluff high above the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri rivers in northern Nebraska. It is breathtakingly beautiful country. An easy place for me to "be." My heart achingly longs for the solitude of the Dakota country there across the river. Maybe that is because the hills and the sky seem to demand so little of me. The reality is that God built me to be with people -- my family, my co-workers, my fellow citizens, my . . . well . . . my people.
That includes those I would just as soon not be around: Those who have hurt me. People I resent. Folks who've been unfair, judgmental, blaming toward me. Those who have wronged me. Those who hate me because of what I believe. I don't often admit that it is tough for me to hang in there with these, my people. I too often opt for "seeming" to accept or to tolerate.
Why? I don't think many, if any, are fooled.
I even try to kid myself into believing that I can "seem to be" something acceptable to God. Don't ask why, because right now it makes very little sense. But the most persistent piece of self-deception in my life, the most blatant example of "seeming to be," is my idea that somehow, somewhere, I am going to do enough stuff right and so become right with God.
Paul and Luke tell me today that not only is that hogwash, but I have nothing to fear by simply settling comfortably into what God has made me to be: His heart and hands and love. There are deeds to be done in connection with "being." But it isn't the kind of deed involved in trying to fake it with God and others. It is the everyday work of love -- finding the patience to be with an "annoying" person who happens to need help. Digging deep for the energy to help my daughter with her homework after an overlong work day. Establishing enough of an inner equilibrium to listen without defensiveness when my wife has a problem with something I'm doing.
These are the deeds that grow out of the belief "in him who justifies
the sinful" described in Romans. This is the life that grows
out of an honest acceptance of my dependence on God, as opposed to some
hypocritical, self-righteous notion that I can save myself.
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