Psalm 34:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
"I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me." 2 Corinthians 12: 9
"Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." Ps. 34: 9
Kids can see things that many of us can’t. I recall one of our younger priests telling me of one such incident. He was hearing the confession of a little girl sitting in front of him. She was having trouble trying to recall something to ask forgiveness for! "How do you get along with your Mom and Dad?" she was asked. "Oh, fine." Do you have any brothers and sisters? "Yes. We get along just fine." Have you ever told any lies? "No." And looking at Father Loran, she asked, "Have you?" And after a slight pause she went on, "Hmmm, you have, haven’t you! It shows on your face!" Oh, kids can see a blush!
I am most grateful for friends. There is an air of honesty among friends that can be of tremendous help in keeping a balance in our lives. Do we accomplish good things in our lives? By all means. Do we make mistakes? By all means. An honest man and woman will face up to both truths. Not always easy, though, to face the mistakes, to say that we are sorry. It can bring tears and pain to both the offended and the offender.
Here is where we begin to see what love is all about. St. Paul is trying to help us in this regard. Paul would help us to remember that each of us has done good things for those whom we love. Each of us has received many signs of love from those who love us. At the same time we can’t forget that there have also been moments of weakness in all of us. There are many weaknesses such as weariness, self centeredness, stress, lack of thanks, taking others for granted, blaming others for our limitations, and a host of other things.
I have re-learned a wonderful lesson since I have lived here in Houston. I am like everyone else. I have gifts and talents, along with limitations. I need to pay attention to the bigger picture. No fair be selective in being who I am. St. Paul was very much aware of his weaknesses along with his gifts and talents. What a precious gift is that awareness of who I totally am. It’s expressed in a Southern saying: "Be who you is, cuz if you ain’t who you is, then you is who you ain’t."
Loved ones make mistakes once (!) in a while. A little child can often make a mistake. A teenager can often make a mistake. A young adult can often make a mistake. Ah, yes, an older adult can often make a mistake, too. And what do they need? They need forgiving love. Sometimes, it’s with tears, with pain. Being hurt by a loved one can be very painful.
What is it that you continue to over emphasize by way of criticism in a loved one, keeping a thumb on the negative button? How grateful are you for the many, many little signs of love and appreciation that come your way each day? Would you mind spending the rest of this day noticing and affirming the goodness around you with a word of thanks!
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.