Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Will Show Me the Path to Life


September 11, 2009

Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. (1 Timothy 1:13)

You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (Psalms 16:11)

Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained,every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.(Luke 6:39-42)


We have no words that rightly express what we on earth cannot understand or ever truly fathom, the Love of God, so we turn with childlike faith to the words that Jesus Himself taught us to pray: "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Excerpted from John Paul II’s prayer for the victims of September 11, 2001)


It’s easy to criticize that which we don’t understand on the world stage.

And, it’s easy to come up with sweeping, broadstroke efforts that we hope will move us closer to understanding: the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity; the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches; the Catholic-Muslim Forum; the Mid-Atlantic Muslim Catholic Dialogue. And while we admire those efforts, they don’t have much direct effect on our daily lives.

It’s also easy to criticize that which we don’t understand on the smaller stage of our own lives: people who complain about their jobs but don’t do seem to do anything to change the situation. People who can’t leave the last piece of candy in the dish or last drop of wine in the bottle. People who don’t deliver on promises in the agreed-upon time period. It’s hard to see the Christ in them, we think smugly, blind to our own complaining, excesses, and broken promises.

“Can a blind person guide a blind person?” Jesus asks rhetorically in today’s Gospel. Of course not. But we as we grow in acceptance of that greatest mystery—the Love of God—we grow in acceptance of each other and ourselves. We learn to ask questions and comment without judging: “What frustrates you most about the situation, and is there a way to resolve it?” “Would you like some water or vegetables?” “Would later be better for you?” And in doing so, we grow in understanding of others and in the ability to see our own blind spots. We grow in joy and become closer to the Teacher.


Work on one of your wooden beams. Talk with a Muslim about his or her faith in the closing days of Ramadan. Ask questions. Have a dialogue. Or, talk with a friend mired in a situation for which you have little sympathy or patience. Ask questions. Have a dialogue.