theROCK

Give Hope

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The first week of Advent asks us  to ponder the virtue of hope. Are you looking for a way to give hope in preparation for Jesus? Try this.

In the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
Jesus wants us to prepare the way for his coming, for there are so many blocks in the way of his becoming all in all for us. Give him whatever he takes and take from him whatever he gives with a big smile.
Be a cause of joy to others.
Speak well of everybody
Smile at all you meet.
Deliberately make three acts of loving kindness every day.
Confess any sin against charity.
If you offend anyone - even a small child - ask forgiveness before going to bed.
Read about, meditate on, and speak of this love.

The Shoes of Others

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I was walking to church. It was a Saturday morning. I was to be an altar server at a wedding. I was in fifth grade. I came past our school and turned toward the church. Seeing me, one of my school mates came racing down the grassy hill in front of school where he had been playing. He came right up to me and punched me in the mouth. He said he hated me because I was a “goody two shoes”. I had no idea what he meant.

I went home after the wedding and told my mother. She said I should pray for him. I did not find that easy, but decided on praying that he would die peacefully of some fatal illness…and do it before Monday.

What does Jesus want from us when he tells us to pray for those who mistreat us? As I grew up, I knew my prayer for my enemy from fifth grade was not right, but often I traded this prayer for wishes that my offenders would change. I prayed that those who mistreated me would think more like I did. In reality, this “mature” prayer for my enemies was no improvement from fifth grade. So what are we to do?

 Jesus tells us: stop judging, stop condemning, stop closing the door to those who hurt you. Jesus calls us to radical empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of others in every encounter we have, joyful or painful.

This is the formula for holiness and believe it or not, peace. Instead of wishing evil upon that boy who punched me in fifth grade, if I had just understood that he was having a real bad day, the incident would not have bothered me so much that I still remember it decades later.

Stop your unwillingness to love, and be healed.