|Memorial of St. Philip Neri
Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
My mother's favorite spot in our house was literally a spot. Both my mother and father loved to clean and they usually used their day off from work to clean their house. My father once cleaned a frosted light fixture so thoroughly that he took off a big round spot of glass frosting that he mistook for dirt. My mother, who found this very funny, would not let him replace the fixture! Instead she showed this "felix culpa" (happy fault) to everyone who came to the house and had them join in the laugh.
My father and mother certainly knew what they were doing when they cleaned but that day zeal for my father's house overtook my father! He thought what he was doing was good but perhaps it was too good!
Today's readings speak of people's actions. Lydia, the seller of purple cloth, is converted to the Way and invites Paul to stay with her family. Jesus tells of people who will persecute and expel his followers. Both are convinced that they are doing good, both are convinced that they are indeed worshipping God. Both are full of zeal.
But each result is different. One gives life and nurturance, the other takes life and excludes.
I can certainly think of times when I thought I was doing good but it did not quite turn out that way.
Just as perfection is not a single action nor conversion, a single decision (although each MAY start out that way) the way of the Lord is a daily learning, an hourly chancing and minute by minute grown. Learning is open-ended and the point of it is to keep finding the truth.
But how are we to know if what we are doing is always good? For this we have the Spirit, the one who gives us wisdom and guidance if we but ask. The one who helps us discern our course in life. And the one who brings us back when we make bad choices.
St. Paul in one of his epistles tells us we now see through a glass darkly. My father fixed that! Extended zeal and a lot of windex can let light into the darkest of places.
Effusive zeal and fire for the Lord are good things. Just be
sure to carry fire insurance-the life of the Spirit who guides it in acting
lovingly and generously. And if we err, let our fault be happy, let
it open more light onto our path so that we may walk more firmly and surely
in the way of the Lord.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook