So many times in my reflections, I have acknowledged that I believe there are no coincidences with God. The seemingly unrelated come together in ways that amaze and surprise me, yet as I give them further thought, I realize that these are not happenstance. So it is with today’s readings and other events in my life these past weeks, even yesterday. It cannot be coincidental that the readings’ emphasis understanding sin and self and the omnipotence of God of knowing our sins yet loving us in spite of that. The foci for the last few weeks in the online retreat is on sin – sin in the world, sin in our own lives, patterns of sins, and always, always, God’s love and acceptance of us. Hearing it from both sides, tells me it is something I am supposed to be addressing. Add to that, a close person in my life, talking a great deal about the 4th step in his 12-step program. For those of you not familiar with the steps, the 4th step involves taking a “fearless, moral inventory.” In other words, really examining your life and being willing to identify “shortcomings.” Wow, now that’s a step. . . and using the words of Neil Armstrong, a giant leap – not necessarily for mankind but certainly for the individual doing so and all those around him or her. Indeed, the impact is far reaching. Anyway, with all this whispering (probably really shouting) in my head, I approach today’s readings and offer some reflections.
Today we celebrate Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr. His life is of particular interest because he grew up in a time and place, where virtue was not necessarily the order of the day. Yet, despite that, he continued to praise and to honor God and took his strength from the Holy Spirit with little human guidance in the “right” ways. The readings fit well with this concept of finding virtue and living accordingly whatever the circumstances.
I have always loved that we have a book of the Bible, entitled Wisdom – who could ask for more than that? Our reading from the very beginning of that book sets the stage for the rest:
Whether we take the time and have the moral spirit to fearlessly examine our selves, our readings all point to the fact that God KNOWS us. That is the most amazing aspect; He knows us and STILL loves us – with all our faults and warts.
Many years ago, I was having a very sincere discussion with a dear friend, spilling my innermost thoughts and transgressions. She listened so lovingly and was so accepting, I was moved. It was then I realized what it means (at least to some extent) for God to still love us in spite of everything. I remember thinking that if she, a human being, can be so forgiving and understanding, how can I ever doubt that God is capable of loving and forgiving me. It was a definite revelation. Our readings, while acknowledging our sins, still leave us knowing that God loves us – no doubts, no wondering. He loves us unconditionally.
Yesterday I received notice of the death of a nursing colleague from another state. She was younger than I was and died from a brain aneurysm – so the situation definitely caught my attention. I found myself crying – not because she was a close friend or that, I cared about her dearly – rather, because I did not. I remember always dreading when she was at meetings because there was an aggressiveness and belligerence toward so many. I knew I was not alone in recognizing this and the schisms that were left in the wake. Yet, in the context of these readings and the online retreat focus, what right had I to judge her? Another sin to add to my lengthy list, but also another lesson to be learned. I struggle so to learn these that God grants me numerous opportunities to practice – perhaps, one day I will get one of them finally learned.
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