I have so much respect for Terry Nelson, the author of the blog. He is an authentic disciple of Jesus and a far better man than I am. I always profit from reading him. You should check him out.
Two things on his blog stick out for me today, and one of them helps crystallize something I’ve been chewing over for the past couple of days.
The first is this piece on this beautiful work commissioned by a Barcelona priest who hired street graffiti artists, aka taggers, to decorate his Church:
I think it’s beautiful and in keeping with the truest of Catholic traditions: that “liturgy” means “the work of the people”.
Second, is this post on Cdl. Mahony, which puts me to shame.
I took a walk yesterday and spent the time struggling, as is my custom, to pay attention to the Rosary. In the course of my many mind wanderings, I got to thinking about some of the people in the news I’ve been harsh with. These tend to be people I regard as abusive of power entrusted to them at the expense of the weak (think “Mahony and the cops who killed that young man with Down’s Syndrome”). I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, it being a Tuesday, and got to thinking about the parable of the unmerciful servant. I thought about my wishing that Mahony was in jail, that the cops were in jail, that the bad guys get there comeuppance and it was sort of like I was challenged to say all that to Christ’s face: to say, “Give them what they have coming to them!” with the full awareness that the measure I use would be the measure I receive.
Long pause. Couldn’t do it. I’m stupid, but not that stupid. I’ve got sins in my own past where I’ve received ridiculous amounts of grace and would not all all like it if I got what I deserved for them. I tried that “I’m just after justice here” feint but it was pointed out to me that I am not charged under law with the task of dealing justice to these or most of the people I sit in judgment about as I blather on from day to day. I’m neither judge, prosecutor, jury, nor jailer. So what is achieved by training myself to wish for judgment to fall on people whom God has not placed me, under law, with the duty judge?
Nothing, unless you account “becoming more eager for the punishment of others and the exemption of myself” an achievement.
So it appears that one of my Lenten projects is going to be to try to find a way to think differently about people I regard as guilty of serious evil. It can’t be to pretend that they are not guilty of serious evil (I don’t do it of myself when I sin–or at least I try not to), but neither can it be the wish they they get their comeuppance. It has to be a hope and a prayer for mercy for them and for the various other people who commit outrages. I’ve received absurd amounts of mercy myself and I don’t want to blow that like this guy:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. * 23* “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; * 25* and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26* So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; * and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, * till he should pay all his debt. 35* So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
All of which is to say, my prayer is that this will affect the way I blog in future, and I think Terry Nelson is one guide in this department. So: thanks Terry! And to Cdl. Mahony, the cops who killed that Down Syndrome kid, and anybody else I have wished punishment on for their sins: For my part, I forgive you. And I ask God forgive my sins. Unless it somehow becomes my job measure out just punishment for sins (which, as a father, it sometimes is) I think it healthiest for my soul to attempt to break that habit. I suspect that, like quitting smoking, it will be so easy that I will do it thousands of times. But I think I should try.