Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

What is the Thorn in Your Flesh?

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:7-9

What is this “thorn in the flesh” that St. Paul speaks of in his second letter to the Corinthians? Bible scholars have speculated over the years – it could have been a physical illness, a spiritual temptation, or perhaps a certain person who simply made his life incredibly difficult. In the end, it really doesn’t matter, and perhaps that is why St. Paul was purposefully vague (the Holy Spirit at work!). If he had specified what, in particular, was bothering him so much, we might be inclined to brush off the verse and think it doesn’t apply to us. As it is, it has something to say to each and every one of us.

Every one of us has a “thorn in the flesh” – something that no matter how hard we try and no matter how much we beg God, just isn’t going away any time soon. I know I have mine – more than one, actually. There are the physical issues I struggle with, the temptations I find myself battling every single day of my life, the people who I always seem to clash with, the character flaws that I can’t seem to correct, the sins I find myself saying in confession over and over and over again, despite my resolution to “go and sin no more.”

And yet, perhaps, like St. Paul, those thorns in our flesh serve a purpose. I know mine help make me much more understanding and less judgmental. My physical difficulties help me to have patience with others. Is someone having a bad day? Perhaps they had some pain I can’t see and don’t know about. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The people I find difficult to deal with? I’m sure that they find me a cross as well, and if not them, well, then there are probably others that do and I just don’t know about it. A little kindness and biting one’s tongue can go a long way.

I know I’m not perfect. I prove it every day of my life. Therefore, I will not be casting stones anytime soon, and when I’m tempted to be self-righteous at any time, I only have to remind myself of my own laundry list of sins and that temptation is usually put in check pretty quickly.

Most importantly, though, like St. Paul, our imperfections force us to depend on God. We need His mercy, His forgiveness, His understanding. We need Him to take us, all of us – even our weaknesses, and flaws, and somehow turn our failings and our trials into something good. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need God. As it is, we can’t make it through a minute on our own. We must rely on His grace and trust that He knows what He is doing. Those thorns in our flesh may be an ever-present reality, but God can use even them for His glory.

Do We Question a Generous God?

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

This week’s Gospel (Matthew 20: 1-16a) tells of a vineyard owner hiring and paying his workers. Some workers work all day. Others come at noon. Still others start work at three in the afternoon. The last group comes at five in the afternoon. In the evening, much to everyone’s surprise, everyone is paid the same! When those who worked all day complain, the landowner replies, “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

At this point, those of us who are being honest should probably nod in agreement. How many times have we complained to God, “That’s not fair!” We see someone else having success (whether that be related to family, work, or health concerns) that we feel should be rightfully ours, and we protest. “But God, I’ve worked and worked and prayed and prayed, and she did so little and got what I wanted!” How many times have we resented another’s supposedly undeserved good fortune? This Gospel tells us we have no reason to do so. God can do exactly as He wishes – His generosity knows no bounds.

Of course, this works on a spiritual level as well. Those of us who have been faithful Christians all of our lives can wonder about a God who rejoices in and welcomes the sinner who repents at the last moment of life. Think of the criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus, whom Jesus informs, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Like the workers who labored all day, we complain, “That’s not fair! How can that person receive the same reward as someone who has lived a good life all of his days?” We can start by taking a hearty dose of humility and realize that none of us is without sin. Jesus died for all of us. He opened the doors of heaven for all of us. We are all in need of His mercy.

Does this mean we should live a hedonistic, selfish life, ignore the Ten Commandments, and plan to convert at the last moment? Of course not. We have heard the Gospel and are called to live it. Plus, death can come like the thief in the night. One can never be sure that one will have that opportunity to have that change of heart.

What it does mean is that we should rejoice when people change their ways, no matter how late in the day that conversion may come. There is hope for every living person, even the hardened sinner and the person who has hurt us most deeply. We should pray always for others to make it to heaven.

It also means that we should trust in God’s mercy and love. We have a generous God. We should not question His ways, but rather trust in them and be thankful for them.

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15th. This feast recalls the seven scriptural references to Mary’s heartache. For a woman who “kept all these things in her heart,” (Luke 2:51) that heart knew a great deal of pain. Heartache often goes hand in hand with parenting. With great love and sacrifice comes the capacity to hurt deeply. When our hearts are hurting, we can turn to Mary and know that she has been there and that she understands.

Vatican approval for the celebration of a feast in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows was first given to the Servite Order (also known as the Order of the Servants of Mary) in 1667. In 1814, Pope Pius VII extended the feast to the whole Latin Church. Originally assigned to the third Sunday in September, Pope Pius X moved the feast to September 15th in 1913.

There was also a second feast in honor of the Sorrowful Mother which was celebrated one week before Good Friday beginning in the 1700s. Considered a duplication of the September feast, it was omitted in the 1969 revision of the Church calendar.

The following are scriptural reflections for the seven sorrows of Mary followed by prayers Pope Pius VII approved in honor of those sorrows.

The Prophecy of Simeon: “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword shall pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of your tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by your heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God. Hail Mary…

The Flight into Egypt: “When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-14)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of your most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and your sojourn there. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety. Hail Mary…

The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple: “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us. Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” (Luke 2:46-48)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the loss of your dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge. Hail Mary…

Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary: “So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgatha.” (John 19:16-17)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of your heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude. Hail Mary…

Jesus Dies on the Cross: “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which your generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by your afflicted heart obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel. Hail Mary…

Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross: “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.” (Matthew 27:57-58)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the Cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of understanding. Hail Mary…

The Body of Jesus is Placed in the Tomb: “Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.” (John 19:40-42)

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched your most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom. Hail Mary…

Let Us Pray:

Let intercession be made for us, we beseech You, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Your mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Your bitter Passion. Through You, O Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

In the Midst of Spiritual Labor

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8: 22-23)

This passage from St. Paul to the Romans is a reminder to all of us that we are works in progress. I recall being young and looking at people who were ten years older than me and thinking that they had it all together. Now, I know better. There is no magic age at which a person figures everything out. Every age, every stage of life has its own challenges. One may gain wisdom with age, a better sense of perspective, and a greater reliance on and trust in God, but life doesn’t actually get any easier. It isn’t supposed to.

This life is meant to be a testing ground, a place where God shapes us and transforms us into the people we were meant to be and prepares us for heaven. I have heard it said that when it hurts the most, that is when the greatest spiritual transformation is taking place. I believe that is true. Just as labor is necessary to bring forth a child, on this earth we often find ourselves in the midst of spiritual labor to bring forth a new version of ourselves. As St. Paul says, “we groan within ourselves as we wait.”

In my own life, I have found that the trials are somewhat cyclical. There will be a time of great testing. I will feel as if there is no way for me to make it through. I spend time desperately praying, searching for answers that seem nowhere to be found. My emotions run the gamut from anger at God to begging for the cross to pass to acceptance of what is and praying for the strength to do what needs to be done. In time, I once again reach a period of equilibrium where I feel on solid ground. While I am thankful for those periods of respite, I also fear them because I know another trial is just around the corner and I do not know what it will entail.

I have also found that the trials are particularly designed to expose and strengthen my personal areas of weakness. I imagine that they wouldn’t be considered trials if they weren’t. If I pass the test at one level, I am given a harder test the next time around. If I fail, I find I am frequently given a second (and third and fortieth) chance to learn the much-needed lesson. God keeps working at me, trying to form me into what I should be. I believe that He does this with all of us.

One of the most beautiful images in scripture is that of us being clay in the potter’s hands. (Isaiah 64:8) In order for a lump of clay to be turned into something beautiful and useful, it must be worked and kneaded and shaped and fired. God is working on us, creating something amazing, but the process can cause great pain. We need to trust that the outcome will be wonderful beyond our wildest imaginings.

Waiting on God

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

The first readings for the daily liturgies this week tell the story of Abram and his family. On Monday, God promises that Abram’s descendents will inherit the land he has brought him to. He was seventy-five years old at this point. Tuesday, God makes the promise again.” I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted.” (Gen 13:16) Wednesday, Abram is getting impatient. “O Lord God, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” (Gen 15:2) Yet, he continued to trust in the Lord’s promise. By Thursday, his wife has had enough.

Abram and Sarai have been living in Canaan for ten years at this point. Abram is in his mid-eighties and Sarai is an old woman – far too old to be having children. She believes in God, but she is also realistic. She can’t bear any children, but Abram is supposed to have some. She comes to the reasonable conclusion that some intervention was in order. So, she gives her husband her maidservant Hagar as a concubine. It is important to note that this was considered perfectly acceptable at the time – Sarai broke no moral code. As a result of their union, Hagar conceives and ultimately bears a son, Ishmael.

That is not the end of the story, however. God is faithful to his promises. Thirteen years later, he changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah and tells them they will conceive a son whom they should name Isaac. God will bless Ishmael as a son of Abraham and make him the father of a great nation (Gen 17:20), but the covenant will be with Isaac and his descendants (Gen 17:23).

Here Abraham and Sarah are, ninety-nine and ninety years old, respectively. They have been waiting over twenty years for God to keep his promise! Keep in mind, this was a promise that seemed absurd even at the beginning. Yet, God was coming through and keeping his word.

This story always makes me sympathize with Sarai’s predicament. In an era in which a woman’s worth was determined by her ability to have children, she had remained barren. This had no doubt caused her much pain, but after so many years, she had probably come to accept it. Then, she hears God’s promise and finds it to be laughable. After all, she is long past her child-bearing years. Her body has lost its life-giving capabilities. And the years continue to go by. So, after ten years, she takes matters into her own hands. Who can blame her? She has certainly been patient. God hasn’t come through, at least not in the way she expected.

God’s promises to us don’t come in such clear-cut messages as they did to Abram and Sarai (at least they don’t to me!). They come instead in promptings of the Spirit, in ideas put into our heads by our family and friends, and the longings in the deepest desires of our hearts. We pray for God’s guidance. We have dreams for our lives, plans that we make, and then . . . nothing. Did we misread the signs? Maybe God had something else in mind for us? Maybe, like Sarah, we get tired of waiting, take matters into our own hands and try to manipulate the outcome. It can be very hard to know when to act and when to continue waiting.

In these situations, what can we learn from Abraham and Sarah? First, if God wants something for our lives, He will find a way to make it happen even if it seems impossible. Second, God can bring good even out of our mistakes. If Sarah had waited patiently for God to come through, Ishmael would never have existed, but God created him and blessed him. His people, too, would be of Abraham’s line. Third, don’t give up on God. He rarely works on our timetable. He frequently makes us wait, sometimes a frustratingly long time. While waiting, our job is to be faithful to His teachings, to continue praying, and make the best decisions we can in light of our present circumstances. God will take care of the rest.

The Appointed Season

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Every week as part of our homeschool program, I choose a Bible verse to post for my children. Sometimes it is from that week’s Gospel. Other times it is relevant to what may be going on in their lives. Still other times I simply pick a random verse.

This week, I am posting the first line of the above passage. It came to me as I was giving my sons a bit of a lecture on prayer. They are growing older and need to focus more on their prayer lives. I was explaining to them that during the next few years they will be making many important decisions for their lives and to do so without help from God was a recipe for disaster. To get that help, they need to pray. Their response: “But, Mom, we like to play!”

Yes, there is a time for play, but there is also a time for work and responsibility and prayer. The life lessons continue. I know it is not a one-time discussion. Even as adults, this balance of time and purpose can be something we struggle with – what we want to do versus what needs to be done or what God is calling us to do. As I reflected more on this passage, I realized that its message was just as important for me as for my children.

My life the past few months has been turned upside-down. I can’t publicly discuss the circumstances, but I can say that what I thought my future might look like was radically altered. I’ve turned to God in prayer and have had the help of many friends praying for me (I am so very blessed to have their love and support). I am taking life one day at a time.

On one level, I have peace. That is a great consolation. I know I am doing what God wants. I am acting out of love and service. I am doing my utmost to trust in God; that He knows the reason for all of this upheaval even if I do not fully understand. On another level, however, I am still mourning the loss of my dreams and my vision of my future.

Change, even positive change (and in many ways, this change falls under that category), is always difficult for me. This time is no different. I know I will dream new dreams. Perhaps, many years from now, I will even be able to dust off some old ones. I will embrace my new future and learn to love it. But that day is not today. Today, I continue to struggle.

This passage serves as a valuable reminder to me that life has its seasons. “There is an appointed time for everything.” God knows the timing. He knows my purpose in life at this moment, in this season, and in the seasons to come. May I serve Him faithfully and trust in His wisdom and goodness.

Do We Recognize Jesus?

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

This week’s Gospel (Lk 24:13-35) features Jesus and two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus walks with them and talks with them and still, they do not realize who is in their midst until he breaks bread with them.

One thing the Resurrection appearances of Jesus have in common is that those who first see Him did not immediately recognize him. His glorified body was somehow different. Those who knew him best were not able to know who He was until he spoke to them or performed some action or showed them His wounds. Then they knew; they understood.

As we go through our daily lives, we often fail to recognize Jesus in our midst. Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that whenever we care for our brothers and sisters in this world, we are caring for Jesus. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Yet, do we see it that way? When our children need our care, do we see Jesus? When our parents grow old and need our help, do we see Jesus? When our friends are hurting, do we see Jesus? When our neighbors are in need, do we see Jesus? When a homeless person begs on the street, do we see Jesus? When our enemies are suffering, do we see Jesus?

Jesus comes to us in all sorts of disguises and it can be very hard indeed into recognize Him. He can be rich or poor, clean or dirty, young or old, a person in our home, on our street, or a stranger on the other side of the world. He can be our best friend or the person who pushes all of our buttons the wrong way. He can be someone who we feel has it made or someone who we judge to have made all the wrong choices. Yes, Jesus comes hidden and we are called to serve. We are called to love.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is known for the service she gave to all those she met. She invited each of us to reach out in a personal way to those around us. She stated, “I believe in person to person. Every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment.” May we follow her example and reach out to Jesus in all His disguises in our world.

To Serve and Be Served

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The scripture readings during the course of Holy Week offer several examples of service. On Holy Thursday, there is the beautiful image of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles (John 13:1-15). Here is the Son of God bending low to remove the dirt from his follower’s feet. He instructs his followers: “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

On Good Friday, we walk the way of the cross with Jesus, and witness the service of Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21). Simon was pressed into service to help Jesus carry the cross. It may not have been willing service. In fact, Simon may have regarded himself as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet serve he did. After the Crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body so that he may bury him in his own tomb (John 19:38). Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome hurry to the tomb as soon as the Sabbath is over in order to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). These, too, are examples of service.

Most of us understand that we need to be of service to others. Sometimes, like Jesus, we do so willingly. Other times we are more like Simon of Cyrene and perform our duty somewhat reluctantly, perhaps even with a tad bit of resentment. Still, we serve.
If we are serving, however, then someone else is being served. In Scripture, Jesus not only serves. When He is in need, He allows himself to be served. If you are anything like me, you might find that to be the harder part of the serving equation. I am happy to serve (at least most of the time). I try to do what I can to help other people. I find it incredibly difficult, on the other hand, to allow someone else to serve me. I am much more like Peter at the Last Supper, protesting to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” (John 1:8)

I know I can’t do everything alone. Without question, I need God’s help. I pray daily for it and can’t imagine life without His assistance. It’s having other people help me that makes me cringe. I like to be self-sufficient. Stuck in my pride, I’m like a three-year-old stubbornly insisting “I can do it myself.”

I have gotten a little better with age. I’m still reluctant to ask for help, but if it is offered, I do try to accept gracefully. I have come to understand that other people need to serve as well, and sometimes it is OK if I am the beneficiary of that service. Indeed, I am thankful for it.

We all need each other in this world. As important as it is to serve, it is also important to allow oneself to be served. Sometimes, that can be the harder lesson to learn.

Book Review: Pathway to Our Hearts

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Pathway to Our Hearts: A Simple Approach to Lectio Divina With the Sermon on the Mount
by Archbishop Thomas Collins
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2011

Archbishop Thomas Collins states “Lectio divina is a prayerful encounter with the word of God. By the ‘word of God,’ I do not mean simply the text of the Bible; I also mean Christ our Lord.” “Pathway to our Hearts: A Simple Approach to Lectio Divina with the Sermon on the Mount” grew out of Collins’ experience of lectio divina sessions he held at the Cathedral in Edmonton, Canada. He emphasizes that lectio divina is not the study of Scripture, although such study can be good preparation for it. Rather, lectio divina is an “intimate encounter with the Lord God through the medium of his inspired word in the context of prayer.”

Each chapter in “Pathway to our Hearts” is designed as a full lectio divina session, focusing on a section of the Sermon on the Mount. Archbishop Collins begins each session with the simple prayer “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” and then an initial reading of the Scripture passage. He then goes on to offer his reflections on the individual verses. These reflections are truly powerful and insightful. Archbishop Collins invites reader to contemplate the deep meaning of these passages which have become heard so often they are sometimes glossed over.

The Sermon on the Mount offers a blueprint for Christian living. It is the heart and soul of Jesus’ teaching. The Archbishop delves into what it means to be pure of heart and to root out the evil desires that live within each of us. He offers a discussion of The Lord’s Prayer and what it means to truly pray. He talks about the role of anxiety and judgment in our lives and what we should do about them. He encourages us to ask for God’s help every day, to remember that “God is God and I am not . . . we acknowledge our reliance on God and on his power to save us.” Lastly, we must always choose life. It is the narrow road; it is hard; but it is the choice Christians must make every day.

The value of “Pathway to our Hearts” far exceeds its stated purpose. It is much more than a primer on lectio divina – it is an instruction manual for the Christian life.

Do We Allow People to Change?

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

The other night, I had the pleasure of watching “You Again,” a fun, lighthearted comedy that will appeal to anyone who ever found herself at the bottom of the social ladder in high school. Featuring such stars as Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Bell, and Betty White, it explores what happens when women are forced to come face to face with the women who made their lives horrible in high school. They are compelled (after considerable conflict) to come to terms with the fact that these women are not who they once were. They had changed and grown.

Is the person we are at seventeen, or twenty-five, or forty the person we are destined to be forever? Is it possible to change in any fundamental way? Will people who knew us at a certain moment in our lives ever be able to see us in a different light? These are all questions worth pondering.

I know that I have changed over the years. Certainly, some aspects of my personality have stayed constant, but there are things that I have said and done in my past and beliefs that I have held that now make me cringe. Life experience, education, and the influence of others have altered my way of thinking. I also realize that I am still a work in progress. How I feel and think in twenty years (presuming I am still on this earth) will no doubt be different than how I feel and think today. I hope that other people will be able to accept me as who I am at any given moment in my life, and not judge me by who I was several years earlier.

By the same token, I hope that I am able to extend the same courtesy to others. I admit that it can be difficult. It can be easier to hold onto old hurts and old impressions. It takes courage and maturity to let go, forgive, and accept people as they are today.

One of my pet peeves in life is when people are running for public office and some member of the press pulls an article they wrote or a statement that they made when they were younger stating a given position that is contrary to a position that they now hold. Such evidence is usually used to show “flip-flopping” or a lack of strong conviction. I see it as evidence that a person grew and changed and is capable of changing his or her mind.

St. Paul was arguably the person who changed the most in Scriptural history. As Saul, he was the chief persecutor of Christians. After his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, he became one of Christianity’s greatest proponents. It would have been easy for Christians to regard him with suspicion. Indeed, some did. But, his life illustrates that people can change in dramatic ways. What would have happened if no one believed that such change was possible?

Lent is meant to be a time of growth and change. Hopefully, Easter will find us different people than we are today. We want others to accept and love us for the person we are becoming. Do we allow other people to change as well or do we judge them by who they once were?