Monday, May 31, 2010

It says: "Be not Do perfect".

Which is easier? Doing things perfectly is much easier than being more like God than your human nature inclines you to be. It’s much easier to clean the house than to be a patient spouse. It’s easier to go to Mass every Sunday than to always tell the truth. It’s easier to help at the local food bank than to hold your anger and accept when things don’t go your way. Doing is much easier than being.

God is love. To be perfect we strive to be more like God and still be our very best self. God created the design he calls YOU so he does not want us to destroy that. He enjoys how we put our own twist on becoming God-like. So it’s not about denying our core selves, our very personalities. Let that flourish and grow because that IS God. What we must deny is the selfish sinful part of our humanity that wants its own way.

That does not necessitate that we concentrate on our sinfulness. Let it just whither away from lack of use, like an unexercised muscle. We need to BE. That is concentrating on the pure, the honest and the simple. 1Cor 13 describes it well: patient, kind and humble. It’s not about being jealous of another’s good fortune but about genuinely rejoicing for them with no envy or bitterness. To be loving (instead of just doing acts of love) you do not look to have your own needs met- perhaps the hardest of all the love definitions. A person who loves perfectly is infinitely calm, forgives and forgets and welcomes criticism. That person never gives up hope and trust in God and is, therefore, a joyful person who daily and faithfully perseveres.

Love is patient and kind. When my mind feels confused and I’m waiting for clarification from God I’m not very patient. I like my T’s crossed and my i’s dotted preferring not to live in ambiguity. It’s an uncomfortable place to be….out of a job, waiting for a diagnosis, in the midst of a conversion experience of some kind. That’s when I need to be patient and, while being patient, also be kind. Not easy for me! Impatience brings with it an unsettling sense of aggravation, not kindness.

Jesus suffered at the agony in the garden and found his best friends asleep during it all. I’d have said “Look, I asked you to watch and pray but you’re all sleeping! Go. I don’t need friends like this!” Jesus certainly wasn’t happy with them but he held his tongue and asked them once again to pray for him.

Love is not self seeking. I believe that humans are instinctively self-centered. I am. Our primary thoughts are about ourselves. Hungry, tired, thirsty, angry, sad. Those things seem to preoccupy our minds over thoughts about others. If I’m really tired I am usually insensitive to the apparent needs of others. I don’t seem to be able to find the energy or the desire to go outside of myself to focus on them. Yet that is exactly what God wants and what Jesus did while He was on earth. Indeed 1 Cor 13 says “if I give all I have to the poor but have not love, I gain nothing.” We do, give and act but that’s not the love St. Paul describes. That’s not being Jesus. It’s only mimicking his actions.

Christianity is not for the feint of heart. It is not easy to be like Jesus. It’s a lot easier to put on an act. Yet acting is only the first step toward heart transformation.

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