Turn to Jesus Christ, Who Gives Life Its Meaning

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

I am having surgery Monday. I wrote about it for the National Catholic Register.

I am having surgery next Monday to learn whether or not my cancer has spread.

Docs in movies know what is wrong and what to do about it at jump street. Or, if they don’t get it at first glance, they engage in heroics and ultimately figure it out.

Movie medicine has nothing to do with real-life medicine as I have experienced it this past year and a half. Cancer diagnosis is more like playing a game of Clue. The “diagnosis” changes at each office visit, and in my case, it tends to slide downhill with each new reveal.

Take my current situation as a for-instance. I went through a hard week of thinking the cancer had spread, only to be told that — hooray! — “It” was benign. Then, after a wonderful weekend of thinking I was ok, my main doc called and said, “This report doesn’t make sense.”

I went back in and, after looking at the possibilities, we decided to go in, and get the thing. It was the only way to be sure.

My doc’s concerns were simple. This thing is big, and it’s growing. It’s growing fast. Three months ago, it wasn’t there. Then, three weeks ago, it was 2 centimeters. Now, it’s — I know this from checking it quite a lot — obviously bigger still. It’s gotten big enough that I can see it through the skin when I look in the mirror.

The diagnosis on that report does not jibe with those facts. Given my personal history the cancer possibility is too real to ignore.

She offered me the old “we could watch it” solution, but I demurred. I mean, “watch it” do what? I think she knew, after dealing with me for so long now, what I would decide. Let’s get the thing out of there. I want to know if I can walk away from this and live for a while, or if I’m looking at advanced cancer. (Read the rest here.)

 

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You are Not the Worst Thing That You Have Done.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by gkaruna karan https://www.flickr.com/photos/35888164@N06/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by gkaruna karan https://www.flickr.com/photos/35888164@N06/

I wrote this for the National Catholic Register near the beginning to Lent.

We do not have to suffer and grieve our sins all our days. We can lay them down at the foot of the Cross where all things are made new.

You Are Not the Worst Thing That You Have Done
Do not wallow in your sins, and do not attempt to hold your enemies in their sins. How can you accept God’s forgiveness and then refuse to forgive?

You are not the worst thing that you have done.

There is more to you than just your failings and faults. You are, at your core, an immortal soul. You are made for eternity.

But the fallenness that pulls you down is wound into you. Nothing you can do can ever break its hold on you.

St. Paul called this fallenness “the flesh.” He didn’t mean the tendons, muscles and bones of our actual bodies. He was talking about the fallenness that Catholics call original sin. He was describing the yearning for the things of this world, despite the spiritual poisons that are hidden inside each bauble and toy we seek.

Fame wraps itself around soul-killing poisons. Power, especially power over other people, is corruption waiting to happen. Ambition, pride, great talent, strength and prowess of any sort in any arena are all good things, all gifts of a sort. But they have their hidden barbs that will dig into us, fester and then separate us from God.

Lent is, among other things, an annual reminder that we are both immortal and mortal. Our precious bodies are quite literally made of the dust of this earth, and, in the end, they will return to the dust from which they came. If you think you are your body, then you also believe that your destiny is to nourish the microbes that break down rotting flesh and slowly decompose it back to the soil.

Our bodies on which we lavish such care are destined to be fertilizer. We can mummify or embalm them. We can dress them up as if they were going out for a special occasion. We can style their hair and paint their lips. But they are, once the soul leaves them, a thing.

The miracle is that we have a promise that these things will live again. The promise is the Resurrection.

St. Paul says that 500 people saw Him at one time. Mary Magdalene was the first, the one to whom He revealed His resurrection. At first Peter and John had to content themselves with the message of an empty tomb and a convincing winding sheet. Later, the Apostles touched Him. He ate with them and talked to them, preparing them with a last preparation for what as to come. He was risen, and they walked and talked with their risen Lord. (Read the rest here.)

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Is Jeff Sessions Confirmation a Tragedy for American Christianity?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

In a move that I regard as a tragedy for American Christianity, the United States Senate consented to President Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General of the United States.

They did this, despite Senator Sessions past as a Jim Crow public official. They did this after silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren for the heinous crime of reading aloud a letter from Coretta King, who is the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. This letter detailed Attorney General Sessions’ Jim Crow actions as a federal prosecutor.

I do not know if Attorney General Sessions has since had a turn of heart and changed in his racism. I do know that the Trump apologists who supported him in their usual knee-jerk, anything-Trump-does-is-holy-and-right manner did not bring such things forward. Instead, they resorted to the trashy, bully-boy Trumpian tactics of mis-using their power to silence legitimate debate and commentary.

The sad and frightening thing is that so many Christians supported this. We now have an Attorney General with legitimate Jim Crow bona fides, and very public and outspoken Christians put him there.

This is not the first time that Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow Trump. It is just one item on a list that is beginning to be too long to list in a blog.

It began with their decision that misogyny was ok, if it was candidate Trump who was calling women pigs and dogs and attacking women based on their appearance. It took an irreversible step forward when Christians — including Christian religious leaders — decided that sexual assault was ok, if candidate Trump was the assaulter.

It also began with candidate Trump’s dark race baiting against Hispanic people, with his demonizing of them and using them as a vote-getter. When Christian people bought into this, they bought into open, frank and outspoken racism. And they liked it.

It began when Christians decided that a First Lady who had posed in porn photos, including girl-on-girl sex, was fine with them. It went a step further when it came out and was confirmed by the editor of the publication in which the photos were placed, that candidate Trump had put his own wife in a porn photo shoot, that he was, in fact, “eager” to do it. What kind of man does that? What kind of Christian supports it?

It began when the tapes became public of Donald Trump, private citizen, bragging and hinting at sex with his own daughter, saying that what they “had in common was sex” and that he wanted “to date her” and agreeing with a commentator that she was “a piece of a–.” Again, what kind of man does that? And what kind of Christian supports it?

It moved right on through Christians supporting the obvious lies of a sociopathic liar and carrying this to the point that they became co-liars along with him.

President Donald Trump has become an idol, a false god, for many Christians. This has reached the point that they actually judge whether or not people are “christian” based on whether or not they are willing to blindly support his actions.

The confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a tragedy for American Christianity because it aligns American Christianity with Jim Crow racism. The presidency of President Donald Trump is a tragedy for American Christianity for a number of reasons.

First, because so many Christians, including Christian religious leaders, have been totally and abjectly willing to reject Jesus Christ when His teachings contradict Trump. They are willing to accept pornography, adultery, incest, sexual assault, misogyny and racism without a quibble. In fact, they are willing to attack people who abhor these things and claim that it is not Christian to oppose them.

They have conflated blind following of President Trump with following Christ, even when following Donald Trump leads them in ways of thinking that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ. Catholics among them wave around some something or other in Canon law that they say requires Catholics to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the evils of this administration on pain of not being a “real” Catholic.

This is a massive tragedy for American Christianity. I fear that it may end up ushering in an almost total loss of credibility for Christian witness in our society.

The standard reply for these things is to say, “But Hillary,” or, “But Obama.” The theory seems to be that these people were so bad that they justify drop-kicking the Gospels and denying Christ His Lordship in our lives to follow a false god who opposes them.

That is specious nonsense. I realize that I cannot reach the people who are so besotted with Trump that they have turned their backs on Christ. That will take the Holy Spirit. Or, I fear, it will take them, suffering the consequences of their blind followership of this demagogue. I fear that in a selfish way, because it means that we will all suffer those consequences along with them.

All I can do is what I am doing, which is to say straight out and without reservation that I am not following any false god anywhere and I urge those of you who still have the wits to think to do the same.

I am not and will never be a member of the “Resistance.” That is just mindless destructiveness, with no purpose, no goal, no reason other than its own brand of mindless hate.

I am not and will never be one of the Christian Trump Worship Cult.

I am in total support of my Hispanic brothers and sisters and those who believe in women’s human rights. I do not follow anyone who supports sexual assault. I do not listen to them and I do not regard them as moral voices.

Women have the right to live and breathe in self-respect, without being accosted and violated by sadistic billionaires who ram their hands up inside them, who call them names and who treat them as things. This is a basic human right. It is at the core of of the Christian witness that there is no Greek nor Jew, no slave nor free, no male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. 

It is a real-life manifestation of the fact that male and female created He them in the Image and Likeness of God.

I believe absolutely in women’s human rights, and freedom from sexual assault is a human right. I just don’t think that giving women the right to kill their own children is the way to achieve human rights for women. Abortion is a knee bending to the devil misogyny, an accommodation to discrimination and the sexual double standard.

Ironically, President Trump is the personification of both misogyny and the sexual double standard. He exemplifies the attitudes and behavior that led so many women to support abortion in the first place. If Christians follow him in this — and right now, many of them are following him the way they should be following Jesus — they will destroy the gains they have made in the arguments for life.

If we want to do something about the influx of immigrants from Mexico, all we have to do is choose the good, positive and Christian response of going to work to help Mexico solve its problems. We need a Marshall plan for South America in general and Mexico in particular.

Opponents of this idea usually say it’s too difficult. But what is “simple” about destroying this country with rage, hatred and unchained evil? What has the demagoguing from the Republicans every election done that has resulted in good? Has the racism of Trump resulted in a healthy country? Has it brought peace? Has anything good come from it?

Doing things the Christian way often seems like doing them the hard way. But, unlike the devil’s way, it always brings good results in the long run.

The confirmation of Jeff Session as our Attorney General was a defeat for American Christianity because so many public and private Christians blindly supported it. It was a defeat because all they had to do was say no to this man and demand that the president make another, better, choice.

We are besmirching the name of Jesus with our fidelity to political evil. We are doing this by putting our political allegiances before the one thing that should be our defining allegiance in every single thing we do. That is our allegiance to Christ the Lord.

I am aware that a lot of people are angry with me, and some of them are going to stop talking to me and begin hating me because I say this. All I can say in answer is that racism is wrong. Sexual assault is wrong. Misogyny is wrong. Compulsive lying is wrong. Demagoguery is wrong.

I know it.

And they know it.

Which is why they are willing to believe any lie to continue supporting these things.

 

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I Want You to Stop and Think for a Moment About How Much God Loves You

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BuzzFarmers https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BuzzFarmers https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/

Note: I’m re-publishing this because it didn’t come through in its entirely the first time I put it up. I hope it makes more sense this time around.

I wrote this a few months ago for the National Catholic Register. I think it’s worth publishing again at this time when we have been so deeply damaged and degraded as a nation and a people by the amoral cruelty of the election just past, and when our Church, which should be the lodestone that guides our lives, is at odds with itself.

I was in a special place of grace when I wrote this. Cancer was, for me, a powerful experience of the love of Christ. The graces He rained down on me during that time could only have come from a God Who truly is love.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve spent the past seven months in the hermetically-sealed world of cancer treatment. That world disconnected me from the other world of normal life with the abrupt finality of amputation.

One minute, I thought I was fine. The next, I was fighting for my life. The re-entry into what I just labeled “normal” life was as abrupt as the leave-taking. I arrived, not well, not even close to well, but wounded and battered from treatments that had just ended. The sights, sounds, behaviors that confronted me in this “normal” world seemed alien and more than a bit trivial.

I suppose it was a bit like a soldier returning from an overseas war. They get on the plane with sand in their teeth and the rattle of gunfire still sounding in their ears and get off a few hours later in the impersonal noise and confusion of an American airport. Technically they are home, but “home” feels more alien than the alien world from which they have come.

They are stunned. As I was stunned.

The single biggest change is not that I am changed physically, although I am changed physically in obvious ways. It’s the shift in values, in my understanding of what matters, that sets me apart from everyone around me.

Take, for instance, Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love. I think I heard something about it when I was in that other world, but I don’t really remember what. Between the drugs and the overwhelming sickness, nothing stuck except a clear memory of how wretched I felt. That, and not much else, is imprinted on my mind, in much the same way that I would keep seeing a blinding flash, even after it’s over.

I was aware, in that same vague way that I knew about the Exhortation, that there was the usual carrying on from the usual places that seems to accompany everything the Holy Father says or does. But somewhere between the words “you have cancer” and the release of the Exhortation, my relationship with my Church had changed.

That’s only reasonable, since my relationship with God had also changed during that time. I’ve never felt closer to Jesus than I did during those months of treatment. He was, to paraphrase W H Auden, my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest.

I was both too sick to care about the reaction to Pope Francis’ Exhortation and too deep in the love of God to take it seriously. Now that I am slowly getting better, tip toeing ever-so-cautiously around the rim of normal life without actually diving in, I retain the profound crystallizing viewpoint that is, to paraphrase another poet, all I know of heaven, all I need of hell.

I’ve been someplace quite rare in this life. I’ve been to hell while wrapped in the loving arms of God my Father.

I want to tell you what I learned on the trip. I learned that all we know of heaven lies in the peace of Christ Jesus. There really is a peace that passes all understanding, a love that does not die, that grows stronger when we are weak. The secret to life in Christ is no secret at all. It is not built on being sinless, pious and perfect. It is certainly not built on having the right political ideas and voting correctly. You do not get to God by hating the right people for the right reasons. Rely on yourself and your own righteousness, and you will never see heaven at all.

The only way to heaven is through the Way, which is Jesus and His love. All you have to do is trust Him. That’s all. Just throw yourself into His arms and let go of everything else.

We are so grounded in this life that we lose sight of that. It’s very difficult for earth-bound creatures like us to fly. I was blessed to encounter the terror of cancer. Cancer pushed me right up to the cliff of abandoning myself utterly into God’s hands, and in the faith that came from decades of walking in Him, I closed my eyes and stepped off.

The rest is a song of floating in His love through the white water that lay ahead of me.

During that passage, as a result of that step off the cliff, I changed. The Church became, not a set of teachings and dogma, but the living Eucharist, the Body of Christ in fact and in truth.

I encountered Jesus every day, and He blessed me over and over again, while the Church fed me with the concrete love of Christ in Eucharist. I could reach out and touch Him, taste Him, receive Him physically, while He surrounded me with His loving presence spiritually.

God’s beautiful people reached out to me with letters, emails, offers of help and assistance from every direction. They, too, became the living Body of Christ and I found deep healing in their caring.

When I heard about the Exhortation, I didn’t really care what it said. Pope Francis is Peter. Me? I’m just a back-pew sitter who has no real right to be part of this beautiful Body of Christ. I am not here by virtue of my virtue. Far from it. I am only here because God loved me from eternal death to eternal life through His forgiveness and Mercy.

I am writing this post for one reason. I want you to stop and think for a moment about how much God loves you. Stop what you a doing and just think about what He has forgiven you, and how much you rely on His love and forgiveness. Without that love, without that bounteous mercy, you and I would both go straight to hell.

That, my friends would not be a harsh judgement. It would be justice in its absolute and accurate sense. We do not deserve heaven. We deserve to go to hell.

If those people who hated me back when I was doing my worst had had their way about it, God would certainly have never forgiven me. It is a verifiable fact that some of them were outraged and bitter when I converted, that they called everyone from my bishop to other members of my parish to protest and say that I should be shunned and kicked out.

But that great Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church welcomed me home and accepted me as its own daughter.

If Pope Francis is telling us that God’s Mercy extends to everyone without regard to what they have done, he is only telling us the truth. He is not changing doctrine. He is preaching Christ.

I know only too well the kind of willful sinfulness leaning on my own wisdom can lead me to commit. I pray every day that God will protect me from my own understanding, that He will not let me walk past Lazarus.

If you are one of those who is outraged by what our Holy Father has written, stop for a moment and think. When you stand on the edge of that cliff and look out over the expanse of nothingness that is your own suffering and death, the Church will be there to sustain you.

When you step off that cliff, the arms of Christ will catch you.

None of this will happen because you deserve it. It will happen because love is stronger than death, and our God is a deeply personal and infinitely loving God of mercy.

Do not begrudge other people the same forgiveness that saves you. Do not, ever, tell anyone that God does not love them. The first is not only a cruelty, but a denial of your own salvation, as if you are throwing God’s gifts to you back in His face. The second is a lie, plane and simple.

I think that when we get to heaven one of the biggest surprises we’ll have is who we see there. And who we don’t.

Trust the Church and trust Jesus. Don’t wait until one of life’s existential trials forces you to it, trust Jesus now. And stop worrying.

Whether it seems like it or not, God’s got this. If you are His, you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fear.

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Light in the Darkness: The Cost of Following Christ

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

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Christ, Our King

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting For the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting For the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

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The G.O.S.P.E.L. Never Gets Old

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

I’ve posted this before, but I think we could all use it once again.

The truth doesn’t get old and our need for Christ and His Mercy never end. We need that message now and always. Christian life is a life of hope built on the certainty of purpose and meaning that is the Way that leads to eternal life. We have found the Pearl of Great Price, and it is the person of Jesus Christ.

Enjoy.

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Cancer has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

I wrote this last week for the National Catholic Register.

 

I’ve been trying to find my way back into writing for quite a while. It isn’t easy.

Every time I think I’m moving forward, I fall down. I get sick again; not cancer sick, but too sick to do anything. I get colds, kidney infections, gastrointestinal thingies, then I get another cold, and so on and so forth.

Each little illness — and these things come at me like they were being fired from a repeating rifle — takes the little bit of pizazz that I’ve mustered and smashes it flat. I have to rebuild my stamina, and yes, my interest in the world outside the confines of my personal life, all over again. Then, just as I’m peeking over the rim, I get hit with another illness.

These things take me down in a way that colds and such have not in times past. I don’t remember ever missing a day’s work over a cold or a kidney infection. No matter what happened, my verve for doing kept right on keeping on. It has fueled me all my life. But cancer extinguished that verve in a deep, deep way. My focus switched to an all-out fight for my life.

In addition to wearing me down, cancer shifted the things I care about. What mattered to me, in fact all that mattered, was Jesus, my family and a few friends. Whatever verve I had left went to cuddling my granddaughter and taking my Mama out for drives.

There was a time — quite a long time — when I could do neither. In fact, there was a period of at least a couple of weeks where my memory was so drug-laden that it’s just a spotty series of scenes that I sort of remember.

I had one tough instance of runaway high blood pressure. I had daily visits from nurses for a few weeks. They were wonderful and probably saved my life when the blood pressure went wacko. The nurse caught it and went to bats with the docs that they had to do something about it. I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do remember her telling a doc “You have to act. I will not leave this patient in this condition. I don’t want a mastectomy to stroke out on me.”

The odd part of that memory is that a friend of mine was Rebecca-sitting during this whole event. She came to my house each morning as my husband was leaving for work and stayed with me all day. I remember we watched movies and that she helped me strip drains and such.

Later, when I was trying to remember the big mess with the blood pressure, I asked her, “Were you there when that happened?” She smiled and said, “Yes, I was.”

Another time, I was telling her about how heavy my Kirby vacuum cleaner is and bragging that I had been able, for the first time in a long time, to vacuum my living room floor. She smiled and said, “I used that vacuum to clean your house when I was taking care of you.” I have no memory of that.

There’s a lot I don’t remember, and a lot I do (Read the rest here.)

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Cancer or Not, I Know Whom I have Believed and I Trust Him.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

This is another article I wrote for the Register. This one is about my surgery for breast cancer. I am having surgery today, beginning at 8 CST. It will run until about noon. I would appreciate your prayers, my friends. Rebecca

(Credit: Andrey Mironov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t believe that anyone ever asked me what I would do if I got a bad breast biopsy result. But if they had, I’m pretty sure that feeding a sudden craving for classic rock music would not have been among my answers.

Silly me. I just didn’t know.

Monday was a hard day. My husband and I drove to Dallas and I had a biopsy on my breast. Then, we drove home. For those of you who are wondering, driving 200 miles in a Honda Fit after having had your breast rotter rooted is not a fun time.

The surgeon told me at the get-go that he thought “it” was benign. Then, he turned me over to the radiologist for a little look-see. I went into that encounter hoping that they would be able to determine that everything was good with scans. No such luck. After doing a set of mammograms, with a more hyped-up machine than the one here in OKC, the doc turned serious.

It’s funny, in a non-humorous way, how they keep doing that. They walk in all sunshine and light, then get a good scan and switch to all business. The results came in yesterday, and are a bit too technical for this post. Long story short, I’m still out there, wondering exactly how bad “it” really is; only the questions of it being harmless and of no matter have been settled. It’s not harmless, and it is not of no matter.

Next week I go under the knife. Bizarre as this sounds, I can hardly wait. I want this over with, and I want to know exactly where I stand and what I’m in for.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/i-have-breast-cancer.-whatever-comes-next-i-know-that-i-am-his/#ixzz3tvGkmgAr

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Pope Francis and Caring for the Least of These

pope-francis.jpgPope Francis preached an extraordinary extemporaneous sermon in answer to a question in Cuba. It was on the consecrated life and holy orders and how these people are called by God to make a gift of themselves to others, to be the mercy of God to the least of these.

I think that what the Holy Father said speaks also of those whom God has given the gift of caregiving and child-rearing. Both of these are thankless and disrespected work in our society. And yet, they are the very essence of the Beatitudes.

No one can be closer to God than a young mother, sitting up all night next to the shower holding a croupy baby. There is no work more Godly than changing the diapers of an elderly parent. The opportunity to care for others is God’s personal invitation to do His work in this life.

 

Pope Francis really hits the ball out of the park with this sermon. Fortunately, Aleteia has provided us with a copy.

Here’s is a brief sample:

How many women and men religious consume — and I repeat the verb, consume — their lives caressing ‘rubbish,’ caressing those that the world throws away, that the world despises, that the world wishes didn’t exist, those who the world today — with methods and new analyses that we have, when it’s foreseen that one can come with a degenerative illness, it’s proposed to “send them back” before they’re born. The smallest.

And a young woman full of dreams begins her consecrated life giving life to the tenderness of God, to his mercy. Sometimes they don’t understand, they don’t realize, but, how wonderful it is for God, and how much good it does to a person, for example the smile of someone with muscle spasms who doesn’t know how to do it. Or when they want to kiss you and they slobber on your face. This is the tenderness of God. This is the mercy of God. Or when they are mad and they strike you. Consume my life like this? With this “rubbish” in the eyes of the world. This speaks to us only of one person. It speaks to us of Jesus, who because of the pure mercy of the Father made himself nothing. He emptied himself, says Philippians, chapter 2. He made himself nothing. And these people to whom you dedicate your life imitate Jesus, not because they wanted to, but because the world brought them here like this. They are nothing. And they hide them and they don’t show them or they don’t visit them. And if they can and there’s still time, they “send them back.”

Thank you for what you do and in you, thank you to all the women and all the women consecrated to the service of the useless, because with them you can’t start a business, you can’t make money, absolutely nothing constructive is brought forward, so to speak, with these brothers and sisters of ours, with these least ones, with the smallest. There Jesus shines forth and there my decision for Jesus shines forth. Thank you and thank you to all men and women consecrated who do this.

Father, I’m not a nun. I don’t take care of sick people. I’m a priest. And I have a parish, or I help the pastor of a parish. Which one is my Jesus of predilection? Which one is the least one? Which one most shows me the mercy of the Father? Where do I have to find him?

Obviously I continue following the protocol of Matthew 25, there you have all of them: the hungry, the imprisoned, the sick, there you will find them. But there is a privileged place for the priest where this last one, this least one, this smallest one is found — and it is the confessional. And there, when this man or this woman shows you his misery — careful because it’s the same misery that you have and from which God saved you, eh? from getting to that point. When he or she shows you his misery, please, don’t scold him. Don’t scold him, don’t punish him. If you don’t have sin, throw the first stone. But only under that condition. If not, think of your sins and think that you could be that person and think that you could potentially fall even lower, and think that you in this moment have in your hands a treasure, which is the mercy of the Father. Please, priests, don’t get tired of forgiving. Be forgivers. Don’t get tired of forgiving, like Jesus did. Don’t hide in fears or in rigidities. Just like this nun and all of those who are in the same ministry as she is, they don’t get furious when they find a sick person who is dirty, but instead serve him, clean him, take care of him. Just like this, you, when a penitent comes, don’t react badly, don’t get neurotic, don’t cast him out of the confessional, don’t scold him. Jesus embraced them. Jesus loved them.

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