Freedom from Slavery

When we were teenagers, there were many reasons for which we looked forward to high school graduation.   Graduation was a milestone — the completion of a major part of our education.

We looked forward to graduation because we thought “we could finally do what we wanted to do!”  No more “high school rules” — if we were moving out of the house — we would no longer have to live by our parents’ rules. We were going to be FREE TO DO WHAT WE WANTED.

Soon we would find out, whether we went to college or into the military or into the workforce, someone else had rules we needed to follow.  There were deadlines for school assignments, there was someone barking orders at us, or there were schedules we had to keep.

Those who entered into marriage soon came to realize that, while there were many privileges, there were also many responsibilities in marriage.  Being a WE was very different than being an “I”.  Being a couple was different than being single.

We learned:  Being free from some things did not mean we were free to do whatever we wanted to do.

It is a happy coincidence that on the weekend before we celebrate our national independence, we hear scriptures that refer to freedom and to commitment.

As our nation won independence from England, it realized that it was not free from governmental authority.  There was a King and a Parliament — now there was a President and a Congress.

“No taxes without representation” did not mean no taxes.

The freedom to choose leadership did not mean we would always have a leadership that would be universally accepted.

So, too with faith.

In our Baptism, we gain freedom from eternal death — and the promise of eternal life.  At the same time, we are given a candle to remind us, and to challenge us, that we are to be light in the midst of darkness.  We are to bind ourselves to Jesus as Jesus has now bound himself to us.  We are further challenged not to squander our gift of freedom.

In Galatians 5:1,13-18 — St. Paul reminds us “for freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”  

A slave must yield with blind obedience to the master — or possibly  face death.  A slave has no freedom to choose his/her work duties — or the hours of work.  A slave has no freedom to go where he/she wants to go.  A slave has no freedom to retire.

Christ has set us free — so that we do not become a slave to blind obedience.  Christ has set us free so as not to become a slave to any form of addiction.  Christ has set us free so as not to become a slave to any political ideology.  We have been set free so as not to show total allegiance to any person.  

St. Paul reminds us not to use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; but rather, to serve one another through love.

In a reflection published in NCRonline on Friday – June 27th, Jocelyn A. Sideco, in commenting in support of the students and staff of Brebeuf Jesuit Prepatory School, said,

The Gospel (Luke 9:51-62) invites us to see what walking with Jesus might be like…. we are called to prioritize God and God’s providence and God’s mysterious ways….Whenever someone asked about tending to a personal responsibility, Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what he has left  behind.”

The kin-dom of God requires our full attention, our full being, our full devotion.

We must be compelled to see “this” through to the end.

I consider myself a proud American.  As I age, I am more committed to “wearing the colors” to show support to our nation — to our values — to the men and women who defend our principles and our values.  The Red, White, and Blue make me proud.

I do not support the occupant of the White House — but I support our nation and for what we stand.  And, I am FREE TO DO SO.

As people of God — we render to “Caesar” what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.  We are citizens of earth for a short period of time and citizens of heaven for eternity.

We have been made FREE — we cannot surrender to slavery either for the sake of our nation or for the sake of God.

Our freedom allows us to choose — to choose as the Spirit guides us — as our conscience directs us.

We are not a slave to a political party or ideology.  We are not slaves to “liberal” or “conservative” teachings.  We are not slaves to the temptations of pleasure.  We are free to act as we believe the SPIRIT IS CALLING US.

I am NOT FREE to do as I wish or please.  I am free to act in accord to what I sincerely believe the Spirit is directing me to do.

Am I a slave to anyone or anything?  Am I living in the freedom God has given to me.  With God’s freedom, we might be nervous — but not afraid.  With God’s freedom, we might be concerned — but not worried.  With God’s freedom, we  are not beholding to a group, but clear in conscience to act as we believe to be right.

Jesus died that we might be free — let us not fall into slavery to any one or any thing.

hjm

 

 

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Eucharist: A Sign of Unity? Or, A Sign of Fragmentation?

When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s homerun record, many argued that the new record of 61 homeruns in a baseball season should be marked with an asterisk … * … Babe Ruth hit 60 homeruns when baseball had 154 games in a season.  When Roger Maris hit 61 homeruns, there were 162 games in a season.  After 154 games, Maris had 59 home runs.

Maris hit his 61st homerun on the last day of the season, in the 162nd game.  Therefore, while he hit more homeruns, it took more games.  Therefore critics said, his “record” should be marked as 61*.

For so long, the Eucharist has been seen as a sign of unity — many grains to make one bread.  One bread, one body.  Many parts, but one body.

The Eucharist was seen as “food for the sinner.”  No one was “worthy” that the Lord would come under “our roof.”

Today, for too many church leaders, the Eucharist is held up as a “reward for those who are orthodox.”  Cultural warriors have wanted to withhold the Eucharist from those who hold positions contrary to the Church — notably, abortion.  This question was brought forth loudly when John Kerry, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi — Catholics — were running for election.

Bishop Thomas Proprocki of Springfield, IL has been the most recent of the cultural warriors to tell those who do not support the Church’s anti-abortion policy to refrain from the communion table.

Perhaps today we ought to write:  Eucharist: Sign of Unity*

There are dioceses in the US that have proclaimed that the Marty Haugen song, “All are welcome” should not be sung at mass.

For me, this attitude seems to “fly in the face of” Isaiah 55 (Easter Vigil) which tells all who are hungry or thirsty to come and to eat and drink.  Those who come forward, can do so without worry about money.

When Jesus fed the 5,000 — I am sure there was quite a variety of folks present — some who were there simply for curiosity — while many others came because they were interested in hearing what Jesus had to say.  There must have been kind and caring people in the crowd — mixed with those with questionable “reputations.”

If we believe that the “last supper” was the “first mass” — then Jesus gave communion to Peter who would in a few hours deny him three times — as well as to Judas who would betray him.  Even with knowledge of what Peter would do — and what Judas would do — Jesus still shared the bread and cup with both of them.

I wholeheartedly believe that the Eucharist is a sacred time of prayer.  I believe the Eucharist should be prayed with dignity and respect.  The Eucharist is not a picnic or a tailgate party. It bothers me that anyone might come to the table casually/automatically.  I want everyone to be aware of what and who they are receiving.  But, I am not sure that I or anyone can really judge the human heart or determine the worthiness of one person over another.

Everyone of us — each of us — should look into our hearts each time we participate in Eucharist.  Is our mood openness or closed-mindedness?  Are we holding on to anger, prejudice, or judgments?  Do I support the Church’s teaching on Capital Punishment, Universal Health Care, Immigration?  Did I put others at risk by driving and texting or “under the influence?”  Was I a bad example to children around me? Did I judge the person who came to mass, failed to genuflect “properly”, then sat down without kneeling to say a prayer?

If I keep adding to the list of exclusionary behaviors or attitudes — then few of us could approach the Table of Plenty.

During the June meeting of the U.S. Bishops in Baltimore, Bishop Robert Barron (Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles — and known for his videos and books — The Word on Fire) reported to the Bishops that 50% of those people 30 years of age and younger, who were baptized Catholic, now identify as “NONE”, when asked to claim a religion.  He called for better teaching the truths of our faith — and teaching our young people how to defend the faith and to answer our critics (apologetics).  I agree with Bishop Barron that we can always do a better job of educating others about our faith.  HOWEVER, I believe Bishop Barron addresses only one part of the human person — the intellect –while ignoring the heart.

Many years ago our Church was big into a “Come Home for Christmas” evangelization effort.  But, when people came “home”, they did not always feel at home.  For too many, it was:  glad you are here, welcome!  Now, as soon as you get your marriage blessed, then you can come to communion — OR –once you get an annulment and get your marriage blessed — the you can come to communion.  So — it was “welcome home — BUT, you cannot come to the table.”

Or,  someone raised Catholic — and now living a gay lifestyle — it was — glad you are here —— but, there’s a problem with the way you are LIVING the way you are.

Or, people came back to the church to find dull preaching, poor music, and no sense of community life.  Church was a place to go — not a place to be.

I would like to see the Church as a “symphony of different sounds” — a community of different sounds — a communion of different sounds.

If we become what we eat — then cannot the Eucharist — the living Christ change the human heart and mind?  Telling someone to stay away from the ONE THING that might help them to change [grow] might actually bring about the opposite result of what is desired.

hjm

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Mine v. Yours v. Ours

Over these past weeks I have been binge watching on NETFLIX.  I have watched the TUDORS and five Seasons of the VIKINGS.  There seems to be a common story behind the different stories.  Whether it was the 7th and 8th century world or the world of the 16th century —- someone seems to always want what the other has.  If the weak do not submit, then the stronger will eliminate them.

AND SOMEHOW, God is invoked by all.  Whether it was the Viking God Odon v. the Christian God — or the God of the Roman Church v. the God of the Church of England, all was done in the “name of God” and with the belief that God is on MY SIDE.

And, so it continues today.  There are divisions — and then divisions within divisions.  There are “Pope Francis – Catholics” who want growth through change — and “Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Vigano – Catholics” who question the orthodoxy of Pope Francis.  There are Methodists who wanted greater openness to same-gender marriage and those who wanted a more traditional plan.

Thus the divisions among people of faith is not merely between Christians and Muslims — but divisions among Christians and  within “denominations”.

This comes to mind as we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity – a Christian belief that there is ONE GOD — but a God with three distinct persons.  

Here are words of Fr. Walter Burghardt (Lovely in Eyes Not His) as quoted in “Give us This Day” (June 2019):

The Father, John declares, ‘so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (Jn. 3:16) The Son, Paul lyricizes, did not think His glory something to cling to, a prize, to clutch.  He took our bone and marrow, our skin and sinews.  Not because He needed them.  He took what is ours only to give us what is His, to let us share God’s life, God’s glory.  And the Holy Spirit?  The Spirit is not only the love between Father and Son; the Spirit is God’s gift to you and me.”

A lesson we teach to 4 and 5 year olds — a lesson we were to learn ourselves in Kindgergarten — TO SHARE — is a lesson hard to put into practice.  Egoism creates a world of mine and yours.  There is little to no room for OURS.

Pope Francis said this week that “Unity is the greatest witness to the Christian faith.”

Rather than trying to explain the mystery of the Trinity, why don’t we just live the mystery:  three persons — distinct — equal — living as One God.

In marriage/family counseling, I would often ask:  would you rather be right or happy?   For some people being right — or winning — is more important than anything.  Thus, as long as there have been humans on the earth — there has been conflict.

To live with greater happiness, let’s:

  1.  Be happy with what we have – rather than worrying about what others have or what we do not have.  Let’s not compare ourselves to others.
  2.  Be able to accept that we are not going to agree with anyone on everything — and that it is ok to have difference of opinions and beliefs.  Does it really matter that Catholics and Methodists and Episcopalians and Baptists are all “branches” of the Christian faith —- and that Christians do not even make up the majority of people on the earth?
  3.  Accept that I do not have to convert everyone.
  4.  Understand that war in the “name of God” makes no sense.
  5.  Believe that just because I do not agree with you does not mean I don’t like you or, even worse, that I hate you.  We just disagree.

So many of us take blood pressure medication — and it has something to do with our salt intake — but not totally.  We allow ourselves to get “worked up”  — inflamed –by too many things that are not significant.

For me, watching The Vikings and the Tutors has been entertainment.  But, it has also allowed me to look at human nature —and how humans really try to make God in our image rather than allowing ourselves to be shaped and reshaped, formed and reformed by the image of God.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit — make us one as you are One, Dear God.

hjm

 

 

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Holy Spirit Atheism

In late March,  I read an article entitled   The church is suffering from Holy Spirit Atheism written by Franciscan Friar, Fr. Daniel Horan.  I have pondered his words and challenges these past months.

And then on his return flight from Romania,  our Holy Father, Pope Francis, seemed  to criticize traditionalist Catholics who try to “safeguard the ashes” of the past.  An article in the National Catholic Reporter quoted the Pope as saying, “The tradition of the church is always in movement….The tradition does not safeguard the ashes.”

As we celebrate PENTECOST — the day the Church was birthed — when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples — I ask:  What happened on that day? What/who was begotten?  And ultimately, when — if ever — did the Spirit of God stop working to create new things and new ways?

In his article, Fr. Horan, in speaking about Holy Spirit atheism, he states: By this I do not mean that most Christians outright reject the divinity of the spirit.  Rather, I have a sense that many Christians think and act as if the Holy Spirit did not exist and therefore this phenomeon is largely implicit.”

Was not Christianity something new and different at some point?  Was not “the Church” at some point new and different than what existed “before?”  Has not the Church evolved over time —– not by the MEN who held authority —- but by the Holy Spirit moving men and women in new/different directions?

When did the Holy Spirit stop acting and leading in new directions?  When did Holy Spirit evolution stop?

In returning from Romania, Pope Francis compared tradition to roots.  He said: “Tradition is like roots [of a tree] which gives us nutrtion to grow…You will not become like the roots.  You will flower, grow, give fruit.  And the seeds become roots for other people.”

In praying the NICENE CREED, we profess:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son,

is adored and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

The same Holy Spirit, who hovered over the waters of creation, who was there when the Father sent manna from the heavens, the same Holy Spirit who was there when the angel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus, the same Holy Spirit who came upon the apostles and disciples on Pentecost — came to me and to you at Baptism — and again at Confirmation.

When you and I pray — we pray IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  That Same Holy Spirit is leading and guiding the Church today.

The Holy Spirit OPENED hearts and minds and stretched the human spirit.  The Holy Spirit came upon ordinary men and women and inspired them to do the extraordinary.

In the Acts of the Apostles we have seen that from the earliest days — there were those who wanted to assure that the old ways prevailed — of course — new members must be circumcised because THAT IS THE WAY WE CAME FORTH — AND THAT MUST BE THE ONLY WAY!!

The tradition of our FAITH is not in Latin Liturgy, kneeling with our hands under a communion cloth, at a altar rail — our tradition is not merely glorious hymns and fancy vestments.  There is nothing wrong with these “things” —- and they are part of our historical-tradition.  BUT OUR TRADITIONS are much deeper and richer than this — and many of our traditions are intangible bonds between the past and the future.

If we believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and well — why would anyone fear discussion of priestly celibacy or the ordination of women?  If the Holy Spirit is alive and well and given to all the faithful, then must the development of doctrine and discipline be decided by an all-male-ordained clergy and then passively received and embraced the lay faithful.

Were prophets called only in pre-Christian days?  Did prophecy stop with people like John the Baptist?  Must one be ordained to be prophetic?

Did not Martin Luther speak a prophetic message?  Did not Martin Luther King speak a prophetic message?  Did not Sr. Thea Bowman speak as a prophetess?  Did not Nelson Mandela speak a prophetic message?  Did not Oscar Romero speak a prophetic message?  Were not the suffragettes women speaking a prophetic word?   Is there not a prophetic message spoken by those who call for universal health care?  Could not Pope Francis be speaking a prophetic message?

There are those who want the Church to be like a museum preserving relics — while there are those who want the Church to be a living body — actively passing on a lived-faith with a presence in the marketplace and participation in the socio-political-economic process.

In prayer we ask for an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon God’s people, the Church.  We will sing, “Come Holy Ghost” —- do we really mean it?  Do we really want the Holy Spirit to come upon us?  Is there HOLY SPIRIT ATHEISM in our Church?

Cannot God be about something new in 2019?  Was there only ONE PENTECOST?

 

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Forgiveness – a strange kind of love

How is it possible for the father/parent to forgive the prodigal son/child?

To be able to accomplish this form of love and generosity, it seems to me that the father has a deep knowledge of his own humanity and sinfulness — and the he himself must have been forgiven somewhere along the way.

For most of us, reading the Gospel story of the Prodigal Son, we  can understand how the faithful son feels — we wonder how the father could be so lavish in his love — and we think how lucky the ungrateful son was.

In a world where centuries old grievances still cause war – where name calling is more prevalent than praise — where we no one accepts blame or fault — the challenge to forgive seems unreal and impossible.  We hold up the father as an ideal — rather than a model we can actually emulate.

To forgive like the father — we have to reach the point of feeling — I am tired of keeping score, I do not care who wins …. let’s just move on and be happy.  I know this doesn’t make sense — but for the sake of peace, I just do not want to argue, fuss, or GET EVEN.

To forgive like the father one has to realize that all is gift — that I have nothing, I own nothing — that I deserve.  So, if I kill the fatted calf, if I dress my ungrateful son in fine clothes and give him a few of my rings — so what — I am taking nothing out of this world anyway — so what does it matter?!

To forgive like the father, one has to have hope that this will do the son some good — and that just maybe, just maybe — he will pay it forward and do good for someone else.

We know the parable of one who was forgiven much demanded much from those who owed him — he was an ungrateful servant.  He wanted to throw those who owed him into prison, right after he had been forgiven —- that is always a possibility.

As one with no children or grandchildren — but as one who is 69 — I do grow weary of family feuds — tribal rivalries — name calling — that I KNOW WILL LEAD TO NO BENEFIT.  So, why not try and give forgiveness a chance — wipe the slate clean and start over.

Forgiveness does not mean I will forget the pain or the ingratitude or the hurt.

Forgiveness does not mean the other was ok in doing what s/he did.

Forgiveness does not mean I have to roll over and get kicked upside the head again.

Forgiveness does mean — I can’t change the past — she/he cannot change the past — but, we can do better in the future.

Maybe when we grow tired — when we are weary — we will stop living with the desire to get even — maybe as we face our own sinfulness and our own mortality — maybe when we see the uselessness and IMPOSSIBILITY of trying to get even, we will begin to forgive — to let go — to go free — to free.

At times, at times — but not always — justice will demand restitution — justice will demand PUNISHMENT — but, sometimes the greater good — the real justice is the offer of mercy —- unmerited love …. which is forgiveness.

hjm

 

 

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The TEMPTATION to Blame!

As a fan of the New Orleans’ Saints — I agree that the referees blew a call at the end of the game, that affected the outcome of the game.  If the referees had called passed interference or “targeting”, the Saints would have been given a first down with time to almost run out the clock before scoring — and then off to the SUPER BOWL.  No doubt.

BUT, is that the only reason the Saints lost the game?  Is it just to BLAME the missed call and the referees for the loss?  Could there be other reasons?  Could the Saints have missed a tackle, or a block, or a pass that could have changed the outcome of the game?

There is a tendency — a TEMPTATION — to find fault, to blame — someone for all the problems that exist.  Remember:  Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

Most people — most people — would agree that it was a sham for Hitler to blame the problems that faced Germany on the Jews and those who “took advantage of Germany” after World War I.  Whose fault was it that Germany faced economic ruin — find someone, how about the Jews?

But — I think — if we pause, when we reflect —- that tendency, that TEMPTATION — is all around us.

why are we having communication problems in our relationship?  If my wife/husband would just do this, there would be no problem.  The only reason I did that was because he/she did this first?  If she/he had not done THAT FIRST, I would never have done that!

why is my child doing so poorly at school?  it is the teacher(s), it is common core, it is because there is too much/too little homework.

who is to blame for the sexual abuse problem in the Church?  It is the gay priests, it is the gay sub-culture in the clergy!

you know, I wouldn’t be this way if my parents were more caring and considerate; my mother always showed more love to my sister; my father was never home — was an alcoholic — etc.

Are the Chinese to blame for our trade-imbalance?  Or, could it be our desire for cheap/inexpensive things?

Are immigrants the reason for crime, violence, and drugs in our culture?

Is “trashy television” the cause of declining social values … or a reflection of our deeper selves?

On this first weekend of Lent we are called to reflect on the temptations that Jesus faced in the desert as he confronted the devil, the evil one, the tempter.  A traditional reflection on the power of the devil — the evils of the world — our personal demons of alcohol, food, sex, a vulgar mouth — could be preached.

But, I offer a twist —- thinking of what I see as pervasive — the desire to blame someone for the problems around us.  It is my spouse, it is my bishop, the Democrats, the Republicans, the immigrants, the gays, the people on welfare, my parents, my children …..

When do we reject this temptation and accept personal blame for my own behavior, my own destiny, the place I find myself?

I am not going to say we need to own all blame — maybe our parents’ behavior did affect me; maybe my children are unappreciative; maybe I am irritated by the person who has already been deported twice and who is responsible for a crime; maybe a teacher was less professional than he/she SHOULD HAVE BEEN; maybe a gay priest acted inappropriately.

But — is it right and just and helpful —- to blame others for everything bad/wrong around me?  Is it fair to blame an entire group of people for what is wrong?  Just I do not want to be considered just like EVERYONE in my family — or EVERYONE who is WHITE, then maybe we need to see with a wider – broader lens.

If someone or something else is to blame — then I seem to have little power or chance to make things be different – or better.

We all want things to be different.  But, how different are we willing to be?

We all want things to change.  But, how willing am I to change?

We all want things to be better.  But, how willing am I to be better, to do better?

Is it possible that I have some blame for my problems — for the problems around me?

Jesus rejected the temptations of the devil — even with his hunger, he knew “who he was” and he focused on the promises of the Father.

We have 40 days to reflect — to pray — to create a plan for a better me — and a better world because I am better.

Blaming others — to keep out of trouble — is a learned behavior.  And, it can be un-learned.

I have no doubt that sometimes during this week there will be a temptation to blame someone — some group — for the problem(s) around us.  Let’s face the tempter, and not give into temptation.

hjm

 

 

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When does the grace of God eliminate power of the past?

The “Me Too” movement impacted all areas of life, business, and industry.  Beginning in the entertainment world, it swept through television and news agencies, and impacted the political landscape.  Producers, news anchors, a US Senator, and others were forced to give up their positions — and many have faded away.

This week the State of Virginia is experiencing a “political earthquake” as the Governor is dealing with allegations that when he was in medical school he posed for a picture in blackface along with someone in a KKK outfit.  Then the Lt. Governor is defending himself against allegations of sexual assault when he was in college.  Then the Attorney General stepped forward to admit that when he was in college, he used blackface as part of a costume at a “Rapper themed” party.

Last year, a top college baseball pitcher went undrafted by any pro team because of a juvenile charge of sexual assault came to light.

Pro baseball and football deal with the issue of domestic abuse?  How long does one have to be suspended without pay before they return to play?  should they be permanently barred from playing?

QUESTION:  When does a “stupid mistake” from the past become a permanent disqualifier from public life?  

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians [15: 1-11], Paul writes:

For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

SAINT Paul, who once persecuted those who followed Jesus — became — BY THE GRACE OF GOD — an Apostle — a great preacher, a foundation of the church.  So, his sin, his mistake, his “stupid choice” was put behind him and he started down a new path.

Yes, there were those who were suspicious — was the change real?

Yes, there must have been those who did not want him in their company.  After all, he did hurt our friends — he insulted us — he stood opposite us.

Is this Scripture for real?  Does this Scripture have meaning in today’s world?  Should the sins of the past haunt us forever?

Is the Governor of Virginia a racist?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Without a doubt — in my mind — appearing in blackface was not smart–he “should have been more aware” and sensitive to what his actions meant.  Being a member of the KKK is certainly greater proof of being a racist than appearing in blackface.  If his attitudes and actions were racist 30+ years ago, does that mean he is racist today?

Can’t people change?

Isn’t there a difference between what someone does and who someone is?

If someone tells a lie, is s/he a liar forever?

If someone commits adultery one time, is s/he an adulterer forever?

If someone gets a DUI, are they a drunk forever?

If someone takes a ballpoint home from work, are they a thief?

If we are serious about the effectiveness of the grace of God — cannot people not only change — but, can’t they me made anew —and different from the old self?

Haven’t we all said at one time or another:  if not by the grace of God, there goes I.

Racism is evil.  Sexual assault is unacceptable.  Stealing is wrong and a sin.

It is disappointing when those held up as models fall short of expectations.  But, at what point does the sin/mistake of the past disqualify one forever and ever and ever.

We celebrate that St. Peter, who once denied Jesus, turned his life around.  We acknowledge that St. Augustine seemed to have a “colorful past” before he set his sights on Jesus.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was recently canonized — he stood up for the poor, the marginalized, and the victims of violence of El Salvador and was murdered [martyred] while he celebrated mass.  BUT, before he became a friend of the poor — and advocate for justice — he sided with the military and seemed to turn a “blind eye” to those in need.

I seem to have more questions than answers today.  Maybe we need to not generalize and pass judgment without knowing the person and where s/he is today.  What have they done to “make-up” for the past?

Criminal matters are a different — and there are various statutes of limitations.

Is their a statute of limitation for a stupid choice?

Could it be that good men and women are not offering themselves for service is the fear that their past record is not perfect?  Is there a fear that maybe something embarrassing might be revealed.

Let’s remember the words — forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Let’s think about — may the cup we use to measure mercy be used to measure mercy back to us.

Somehow, I think we all hope God will be merciful in judging us.  At  the same time, we know it is not so easy to forgive the sins of others.

hjm

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