Sunday, June 12, 2016

Terror, Violence, and Hatred Should Bring Us to the Feet of Jesus

Most of America woke up this morning to the news that 50 or so persons in Florida were murdered by a terrorist.  In the moments, hours, days, and weeks following such acts of evil, there will be a groundswell of words and gestures.  Somebody will find a Facebook meme that will make the rounds.  Others will make speeches, write articles, and blog. There will be calls for new legislation so that "something like this never happens again." Political activists will use the event to attack their opponents.  Is there anything that we as Catholics can do that would be more useful than joining in the chorus of endless words?  I would like to propose four things that each of us could do.

1. Go to Confession.  After I heard of the shooting this morning, I went to confession.  I went for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, the readings at Mass today are about two persons--David in the Old Testament, and the sinful woman in the Gospel--who sought God's mercy. God wants to show all of us mercy.  Why not receive it?  

Secondly, I went to confession because I am going to die.  I don't know when.  You are going to die.  I don't know when.  Maybe it will be after a long illness. Maybe it will be sudden like an allergic reaction or a heart attack.  Maybe it will be violent like those who were killed this morning in Florida.  All I know is that each of us is going to die. No scientific advancement, no law, no diet, and no medication is going to stop that from happening.  We should be ready to die.  We should be ready at this very moment. Are you ready? If you died right now, are you in the state of grace? Do you live as though Hell were a real possibility? 

Going to confession places us in the right relationship with the Lord. He loves the repentant sinner. He loves the repentant sinner over and over again. Confession allows us to experience the depth of God's love for us.  We cannot justify ourselves. But, when we turn to Him, he lifts us up.  In turn, confession helps us to live a new life, the life of grace. If the world needs anything, it needs people who are living the life of grace. The world needs Catholics who weep for their sins at the feet of Jesus.

2. Pray.  Not vaguely or in theory.  Really, pray. Did you go to Mass today? Why not? If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you have gone to Mass today? We are made to worship God. Heaven will be spent worshipping God. Do you want to go to heaven? If so, then start living the life of heaven now. Worship God. 

Pray for those who were murdered last night. Pray that they be given eternal life. Don't just write posts on Facebook and say things that sound nice but do nothing.  Pray for them. Pray for their families. Pray for those who survived. Really pray. 

Pray for yourself. Ask God to help you to remain in the state of grace now and until the very end of your life. Pray that you will have final perseverance.  Pray that you will love God and your neighbor.  The world needs people who pray at the feet of Jesus and who anoint His feet with their worship.

3. Spread the Gospel. Financially support some Catholic cause. Buy a homeless person a meal. Visit someone who is sick. Console someone who is mourning. The world needs Catholics who are repairing a broken world by being instruments of God's mercy. The world needs Catholics who tend to the feet of Jesus in the persons of the poor, the needy, the infirm, and the forgotten.

4. Forgive someone who has injured you. In the face of so much hatred, anger, bitterness, and violence, the world needs Catholics who are agents of reconciliation. You are going to die some day. You want to die like Jesus who forgave those who harmed him. We have seen what anger, hatred, and bitterness do.  The world needs to see something better. There is something better. It is called Christian Love. The world needs Catholics who kiss the feet of Jesus by loving their enemies.

Today, the woman in the Gospel, didn't speak any words. She knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed his feet in her tears, kissed his feet, dried them with her hair, and anointed them.  We need more Catholics like this woman. She was a repentant sinner. She worshipped Jesus. She shared intimacy with him. She expressed her love in action. She was forgiven. Lives are changed, souls are saved, sins are forgiven, and the world is renewed not so much by slogans, speeches, memes, and laws, but by placing ourselves at the feet of Jesus.  The world needs Catholics who live life at the feet of Jesus.

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