Today’s Thoughts: There is a saying, “The devil is in the details.” Meaning that when you do not concentrate on the details of something you may run into unexpected problems. However, there is an older saying, “God is in the details.” Meaning any action or plan one undertakes should be done carefully and pragmatically; attention to small details will ultimately yield the greatest results. Two ways of looking at the same issue, two ways that seem to produce different results, problems vs great results!
Given the negativity, anger, misinformation, violence of our world and the bad things that often seem to happen to good people – living with a generous and willing heart is not always easy and sometimes is downright frustrating. Paying attention to the details does not always bring good results. At least it seems that way to me. I truly want to follow the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matthew 5: 38-48), “Give to the one who asks of you and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.” Yet, time and time again I struggle with the Gospel way that Jesus outlines today.
At times I want justice or maybe more so revenge, yes, I want an eye for an eye. I don’t like to get hit at all and I certainly don’t want to turn the other cheek. I am happy at times to go the extra mile but not always. You can have my jacket or coat as long as it is an old one and I have another. And it seems at times there are people on every street corner and subway stop if I give to everyone I will be broke within a day!
Yes, often I fail when it comes to Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel and that bothers me! How can I be a person of faith, how can I be a Christian, a Catholic and fall so short? Jesus’ words are haunting words today and I have no answers. Sure, I have often rationalized – I can’t give to everyone; the money will surely be used for drugs or drink; they got what they deserved; somebody has to teach them a lesson; it’s too cold; I don’t have time; somebody else will help them; and on and on!
The details of our readings today are not turning the other cheek or an eye for an eye but the fact that we are asked to be holy, to be temples of God, of the Holy Spirit and to work at being compassionate, loving and forgiving just like God.
Perhaps the key to making the details of our readings work today is prayer. If our first response to the challenge, to the difficulty, to the struggle is prayer rather than anger, resentment, and judgment then we have the chance to imperfectly live the Gospel message.
Today’s Gospel is not about excusing offensive acts or being lenient with people who hurt us. It is not about looking the other way and letting people just do what they want. Today’s Gospel is about how we trust in the presence of God as we live in the midst of an imperfect world. It is about how we react to people and situation that hurt us. Do we seek vengeance, do we expect to extract our pound of flesh or do we pause and through prayer place the person, the situation in God’s hands?
Prayer can be a way of offering another Christian love. It can be a way of seeking mercy and forgiveness and also offering mercy and forgiveness. Prayer is not going to make our world perfect, but it can be a starting point for us becoming the people of faith that Jesus asks us to be today!
Have a great Sunday everyone and don’t for get to give God a little time today.
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...