Caroline | Bell of the Wanderer
What if God challenges us to jump out of the boat in this Year of Faith ?
What if He allows people to cross our path who are very different than our usual familiar acquaintances, who have questions we think we have rehearsed answers for, that pull us out of our comfort zone and make us look deeper into ourselves than we’ve looked in a long time. We study, we pray, we think about those who are without the Lord and assure ourselves that if only we get that chance to talk to them, we’ll reach into our pocket of prayer and memorized Scripture and tell them just what they need to know.
Saturday was just such a day for me. On my way home from running errands I decided to stop and see a family member who was visiting from out of town. I have been praying for him for over 30 years. We’ve had our ups and downs…Well, OK, we’ve had some knock down drag out’s in our younger years. At one point he thought I was a crazy Christian fanatic and wrote me off as a sad sap who can’t cope with reality but for clinging to my religion crutch.
I just kept loving him. Wasn’t easy. He has a lot of letters after his name…lots of education…lots of money….lots of questions.
It’s always been easier for me to see the face of Jesus in the sick and dying at the hospital. That’s humility on display; even the most hardened heart can’t miss that. But, to find the face of Jesus in one whose weighty argumentation’s have questioned the very existence of God and ‘dethroned man from his native excellence’—not so much.
So, while his children played ‘Life’ in the kitchen with my mom and aunt–an irony of sorts, I thought– we found ourselves sitting alone together in the living room, when suddenly like a cloudburst, the questions began pouring down. Oh, and the timing couldn’t have been worse. It was lunchtime, my blood sugar was crashing, I had a million things to do and I was afraid to go down the same road where I remembered all the times in the past I’d been run over by a Mack truck.
But, I sent up an arrow prayer reminding the Lord how much I love this one, but realizing how much more He loves him, asking Him to please give me the words, the wisdom and the patience to stand in the rain with someone who is on a deep search for faith in something/Someone more than this material world.
This love and good will to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men.
But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error who never loses the dignity of being a person, even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions.
God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.
—Gaudium et Spes Chpt 11; 28
In that moment, I realized it wasn’t at all about having the right answers regarding the existence of God or the proper defense of the Catholic Church, nor pulling a memorized verse out of my pocket; it was about seeing the face of Jesus in him and uniting myself with the Lord’s will to ‘reign’ down His light and healing mercy upon a world view shattered by unbelief.
I waited on the Lord…and the words came. Nothing I ever would have thought or planned to say on my own.
There was no immediate miraculous change in him, no monastic bells pealing in the distance…but, while I saw the longing of an aching heart that I knew only God could fill, I jumped out of the boat and the Lord wound up changing…..me.
It always begins and ends with love, doesn’t it?
I think I understand what the Year of Faith is going to be about for me.