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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making a Mockery of Christ

From the Divine Office today, from a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop:

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting, and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God's ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery

These words condemn me, and it's excruciating. On every level, every word...I fall short.  

One of the things I'm trying to work on is forgiveness; more and more, I realize how much I hold on to grudges. I realize how much I complain about people who have wounded me, but forget how much I have wounded others.  I think of offenses both ancient and recent, and my self-righteous attitude towards those who have offended or injured me in some way, both big and small. 

And this runs the gamut;  serious offenses from childhood, things that have formed me through abuse and injury, and more recently, offenses that have simply wounded my pride. 

True holiness asks us to regard others as more important than ourselves, to defer to them even to our own detriment. And I've found myself having to do this, and it's not easy. Especially when I believe I'm right, and even more especially...when I KNOW I'm right!  But sometimes it's better to back off and acquiesce for the sake of the other;  if the lesson is important enough, we'll BOTH get the message God wants us to receive. And it is in those moments we need to sacrifice our own will and allow God to take the lead. 

But what really  convicts me is this:  "If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery."

How often have my prayers been a mockery?  

How often have I harbored a grudge against another, while asking God for mercy for my own transgressions?  

How often have I approached the altar at Mass while feeling and resenting the sting of a rebuke of another, just or unjust?  

How often have I expected kindness, even if I have been unkind?  

How often have I held myself up as judge, jury, and executioner, and resented those SAME actions in another?

How often in the actions of others have I been shown a mirror of myself, and even though BOTH of us have been wrong, have I  held my own position up as the superior one? 

How often have I asked for mercy, even as I have refused mercy to another? 

How often have I pounded the nails into the hands and feet of Christ, even as I have condemned others, even to their faces, of doing the same thing? 

How often have I held both the hammer and the nail, failing to realize it was my own soul being pierced, and each action was to my own condemnation?  

How often have I looked into the loving eyes of Christ and directed my gaze from the wounds I have caused in order to avoid responsiblity for my own actions? 

How often have I directed my gaze away from others because, in my faulty judgment...they didn't look enough like Christ to satisfy me? 

How often have I condemned others, even though Jesus has done nothing but forgive me? 

How many times have I gone about my day, and my prayer and have done nothing but make a mockery of Christ?

How many times in my life have I struck the Rock and Crucified Christ because of my own unwillingness to kneel at His feet in humility?  

How many times, in a single day, have I made a mockery of Christ?

Ecce Homo!  

Behold the Man!

Behold the Man...


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Adoro my dear friend...This getting hit in the head everytime I come here must mean something...I should totally share this with my Confirmation Students...

Paul said...

Thank You, you can't really know just how much I really needed to read that just now!

Christine said...

Awesome! We sometimes forget that it was for OUR sins that He was crucified..

Adoro said...

Joe and Paul ~ Don't thank me. I'm getting hit hard myself, just sharing the "joy". If you're blessed, it's God. I'm just a sinner.

Christine ~ Indeed.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for reminding me that when I have a finger pointing out the mistakes of another person I have three fingers pointing back at me. I hope that makes sense to you. Anyway, great writing!

Pax et Bonum,