Last week, I irritated people online. Some people who profess to be Catholic were engaged in heretical thinking about trivialities and lording their own holiness over others for failing to fall in line with what they thought. What those folks thought was not in keeping with Catholic or even Christian thought. It was myopic and mysognistic and delusionally messianic. They were wrong.
However, God in His infinite mercy, allows us to be wrong.
He gives us the free will to seek and discern and the gifts of the sacraments and graces to help steer us when we err. The foolish people who subscribed to this limited vision, I did not engage. I don’t know them, they don’t know me, and witnessing requires relationship.
However, others who delighted in mocking their error, I did tick off. Because it is easy to mock, and these folks they were mocking, were low hanging fruit, probably unaware of being mocked. Religious zealotry that pats one’s self on the back almost always earns a thumbs down from the almighty, even if the people being singled out are doing it too.
So how do we correct error when we encounter it without engaging in either self congratulatory posturing or just ticking everyone off without encouraging reflection or reconsideration of error? I’d say, we need to see people face to face, or write them where they can hold the letter. Something about redirection requires a tactile component. Scales that obscure the heart’s vision seldom fall from the eyes unless another has made us really look at ourselves. That requires quiet and connection not often possible either online or in absence of the other.
It also means a healthy dose of humility. It seems I needed two tablesspoons at least. Those who objected to what was wrong, were right to object. However, I failed to consider the very thing I sought to address myself. The issue is, how do we get those who embrace a warped version of the faith that will damage others, to see the damage being done.
How do we get them to see Christ as the center, –by not trying to take His spot.
We live in a world of bruised reeds. We are each of us, in danger of breaking –but not because of Christ, but as a result of how we treat each other as someone other than Christ. If Christ comes to us in his distressing disguise, it may be as something or someone we find truly repugnant –but that same person is beloved of God despite his or her sins, just as we are. That same person is the reason Christ poured out all His blood –just like we are.
There isn’t a one cure for all the bruises we’ve given or sustained in life other than Christ –and there isn’t a solution for all the encounters we have with bruised people other than to treat them as Christ. It requires an act of the will and a step back from the place where Christ should be standing, so that He is always before us. Everyone is a tabernacle, holding within, the image and likness of God –the dignity and beauty and infinite value of one loved by God.
It is not easy to see God in everyone, because we hold onto our sin colored glasses, that allow us to quickly ascertain those who are wrong, those who are stupid, those who are evil, and those who we just don’t like for whatever reason. However, the grace that comes from seeing truly, from seeing clearly, strips away all those blinders, and sees the whole person as so much more than their faults, past, present, and sins.
I sat looking at my friend list, and at myself and know that this is true for me as well, no matter how I’m seen –but that the goal of life online and in person, is to get out of the way of Christ, so that others see Him first and all of us through Him. I thought of being a bruised reed, and of learning to let myself bow, rather than pretend, I’m not in anyway broken.