No one's coming.
You're dying, both of you."
Do you have a ... saving people thing? Do you know the facts, understand that it's the government's problem, know that a parent should just be left to discipline their own child, but still try to interfere because you just can't repress the instant gratification of helping? Saving the day?
What's the difference between showing you care and showing off?
What's kind of awkward about the whole thing is that I'm usually pretty reserved about my life. I sometimes live in a fishbowl so I like to keep most of my personal and spiritual issues to myself, which is why writing this blog has been purgatorial. Writing this has revealed to me how much I don't have figured out. Who honestly cares about my reflections? Who really wants to know what I have to say? Someone else already has or someone else is about to. The looks I get in meetings, the distance people keep - if people really wanted my input, my help, they would ask for it. Right?
Wrong. No one asks for help these days. We live in a do-it-yourself, survival-of-the-fittest, mind-your-0wn-business world. Nobody wants to owe anything to anyone. They want their success to be their own merit, genius, wit, sweat and tears. You can't lord your achievements over the Jones' if the Jones' were the ones who lent you the cash.
Today in a textbook I was reading, the author defined the following as a requirement for discipleship,
"You must belong to a community committed to continue His mission together."
As Rich Curran once told us at a staff meeting, the world already had a Savior. You were not it. How do you find the balance of waiting for God to do it, and stepping up? And once you find that community, what about when you worship the kind of worship (literally, the band - or, more specifically - the guitarist), and the parish becomes your idol?
It all has to do with submitting to the Spirit.
The back of your neck.
You know how people say they get Spirit bumps? Like goosebumps but they're from the Holy Ghost? I get them when I see someone act not-like-a-human.
I get them when someone chooses not to go rogue. The Church makes a lot of people mad. She steps too close to their bedroom, to their filth (because that's where God wants to be), and people get defensive. So they slam the door. Scream an insult. Run away. Flick us off. They choose shame, instead of honesty. Wave the battle cry of Catholic Guilt. They make us look like the bully when what we're offering isn't Rules to control them but guidelines for a playground. There are times we must tell people they're about to jump off a cliff, that they're inches from a guardrail that they think is just a fence to keep them in.
But what I love - and what keeps me believing - is when proud, self-righteous, opinionated people like me choose to stay together instead of go it alone. When they have every reason to feel angry and hard done by, that God is asking too much to be unified with those people. When we genuflect in front of the tabernacle of God in our enemies' heart, and expose the back of our neck for them to smite if they wish.
The Spirit of God is for us. Not you. Us.
The reach of your arm.
Secondly, the salvation of souls is the mission of the Church - not the mission of you individually. This is both liberation and great responsibility. Think about it - if you stand with your arms open wide it will reach approximately - I don't know - one and a half people? But if the entire Church was to stand in one single file line holding hands, it would wrap around the world.
Yes, it means listening to your co-worker in the office and politely interrupting their gripes with an assurance of your prayers. Yes, it means reading your bible and maintaining your personal prayer life. Genuine love of God only brings you more genuine love for humanity. If you're really praying, really talking with Jesus, really soaking in His word and His heart, you catch it - what Mother Teresa calls His insatiable thirst for souls.
More importantly, it involves bringing people home to the sacraments. To God Himself. Inviting someone to mass, to fullness in the faith, is like Peter and Andrew and John and the hundreds of thousands of people who told their neighbor, their mom, their best friend's dog that There is a man who will be passing through town tomorrow. He heals people. I don't know how he does it, but I believe He can heal you. I believe in Him. Come see Him with me.
When catechizing children and adults, the Church often presupposes that a person has encountered God, fallen in love with Him, surrendered to Him time and time again and maybe even on a weekly basis. I don't think even the Vatican sometimes realizes that most of us are on autopilot. That we're thinking about the person in front of us' shoes as we go up to communion, not heaven kissing earth. We can't wear a tube top in St. Peter's? But... why? God gave me this rockin' body. Because if you love your neighbor you don't want them staring at your belly button instead of the Pieta!
Pray. Pray, pray, pray. If nothing else, pray for others like you're a libation being poured out a memorial service for someone who has died (2 Tim 4:7-8). That much reverence, that much honor, that much expectation of God's response through your dutiful action. Spend your prayers and your contagious love on those who are Catholic and have so much untapped grace. Odds are, they have encountered and known God, but without understanding His love for them they might think that they're just not good enough for Him. And you know that's not the case. Focus on gathering the broken team back together.
So go lead people to Jesus. But don't lead them to yourself. Jesus doesn't have your rules. Jesus doesn't have your judgment. Pagans and Apple customers wait for instantaneous results; Jesus is mercy-concerned. And Jesus definitely doesn't have your ego. Other people's relationship with Him is going to be vaaaastly different than yours. Don't get in the middle.
The fine line is in the Spirit. Discernment in the spirit which lets go and lets God. The spirit of God is meant to guide you in situations just like this and it can't be contained or controlled. When we receive the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Maturity, we've passed the age of reason and now we're at point where we not only know the difference between right and wrong, unleavened bread and sacred host, but now we know how to stay on the path in matters of gravity.
Next time you're driving along the road and see a pre-teen with a cigarette or a box of kittens, consider: Does this person know I care? Does this person need my immediate help? Does this person need me? Am I at a place to actually do more harm than good? Will I step on someone's toes, and in this situation, does it matter? How can I glorify you and not myself? Is this about me, or is this about you? Lord, how can I help you? Who has the authority to cure this sick humanity and not just cover it with a potentially infected band-aid that will only make it worse?
What do I say? What do I do? Trust Him to give you the answer which provides peace for more than just yourself. Sometimes, calling 911 is all you need to do.
When in doubt, drive around the corner. Sit down at your desk. Pray a decade of the rosary. Think about Christ standing on the sea of Galilee and what would happen. Would He call them out? Would He stop mid-parable? Would He send Peter over to intervene? Or would He just keep moving?
Think about your happiest memory of Jesus.
The moment where the healing begins.
Let the hope bubble over.
Remember how you cried out in joy
Trembled, even if gently, as you first knew forgiveness
On the wave of His mercy
Reach out your hand
And the darkness will disappear.
Fan into flame the gift of God which is the Spirit. 2 Timothy 1:6
Let Him save. First, let Him save you.