theROCK

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.

Living the Love

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I have two favorite verses from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:31-13:13), “Love is patient” and “Love never fails.” I think these two ideas call us to think of others and put others needs ahead of our own priorities or selfishness. Love exhibited as patience can repair so many ills in the world today. Did you get cut off in traffic? Be patient with that stranger. Has a co-worker or friend done something or said something that offended you intentionally or not? Practice love as patience. We never really know what others are carrying in their hearts.

We prove that love never fails when we look outside of ourselves to serve those around us. There’s no need to search out those in need. Life presents us with daily opportunities to love. Living the love described by Paul costs us nothing, but can change our life and the lives of those we touch, more than we can imagine or know.

Let’s make an extra effort to try to be patient with someone. In a quiet, unassuming way, let them see that Love Never Fails

in Faith, Love

God's Love For Us

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I love Christmas time! Yes, partially because my birthday is Christmas Eve and usually kicks off the Christmas festivities for my family, but also because the Church takes this time after Christmas to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas - God’s love for us.

No other deity that has ever been worshiped has desired a relationship with humanity. No other deity that has ever been thought of has desired eternity with humanity. This is the heart of our faith—that we have a God who loves us, desires to have a relationship with us, and hopes to spend eternity with us. So much so that God sent the Word to become man: to walk this earth, eat with us, cry with us, laugh with us, and to show us how to get to heaven. He loved us to the point of becoming vulnerable with us, even coming as an infant.

I am a relatively new parent. I think of everything my son needs me to do for him daily:  feed him, change his diapers, get him dressed, and snuggle him when he gets hurt. As much as he is growing and learning, he is still dependent on us.

Jesus allowed for Mary and Joseph to care for Him. We are capable of loving God. As in any relationship, to love someone is a commitment. God shows His commitment to us by giving us free will, and by becoming man even while knowing that we would still face temptation and sin. He instituted the sacraments to right our relationship with him and fall more in love with him.

My hope is that this Christmas season, you encounter God’s love anew in the infant Jesus and make a commitment to grow in your love for Him.

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