Have you ever had one of those weeks when, it seems as though that one person that can really push your buttons, is doing so intentionally? It doesn’t matter if it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you are in the right. All that matters is the way you react. That being said, I failed miserably this week.
How do I know? First of all, I was filled with righteous indignation at each assault. (Please note that the language I use is not to indicate a physical assault…I am not in any danger.) I “knew” that I was being provoked, I “knew” I had done nothing to encourage it, I knew…well, you get the picture. I was the injured party…and I wore it well.
The second way I knew that I had failed was from this weekend’s homily. Deacon Charlie gave a beautiful one…and it was directed right at me. He told of a businesswoman in a busy airport, who stopped to ask a man for the time. The man was carrying two very heavy suitcases, which he obligingly set down and answered her, “The time is exactly 5:09 p.m., the temperature is 69 degrees, the time in London is 11:09 p.m., the Dow Jones is up, the dollar is holding steady, the time in Japan is…”
Here the woman interrupted him and asked if he got all that information just from his watch. He told her he had, that in fact, he had invented the watch and there was not another one like it in the world. The woman said, “I must have it! I’ll pay you $2000.” The man declined, telling her that he had invented it for his son, for his birthday. The woman kept increasing her price and finally said, “I’ll give you $10,000.” At this the man agreed. He gave the woman the watch and watched her walk away. Suddenly, he called after her, “Wait!” She turned to look at him. He pointed down at the heavy suitcases and said, “You forgot to take the batteries.”
That was me. I was so busy looking at the watch that I failed to notice the batteries. Not only that, it was symbol of how much time I was wasting being angry.
The gospel this weekend was from Matthew 17:1-9
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Peter knew a good thing when he saw it. Let’s stay here on the mountain…life is good. But as Jim always says, “Corn don’t grow on the mountain.” We can’t stay on the mountain. And if we look only at the mountain, we are missing what is around us every day.
I could have used a mountain to run away to this week.
And that brings me to the third reason I know I failed…my daily reading this morning from St. Benedict’s Rule. “The fourth step of humility is that in this obedience under difficult, unfavorable or even unjust conditions, his heart quietly embraces suffering, and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.”
Instead of acting in humility, I let the attacks eat away at me, making me bitter and angry inside. I found myself waking up during the night, immediately thinking of the altercations. I was miserable. And so, I confessed to God all the bitterness and resentment. I spent time in prayer and most importantly, I spend time listening. I thought of Christ and His suffering…He who truly was innocent, and it put everything back into perspective for me. It also reminded me of how many times my behavior is failing in God’s eyes.
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your eyes…
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit – Psalm 51
Nunc Coepi…now I begin again