Difficult Tasks

Moses said to the people:
“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.

“For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.” Dt 30:10-14

I took a few days off from writing. I honestly could not find the words to express exactly how I was feeling about everything and anything. Since the last time I wrote something, the United States have practically been on fire. Tensions among everyone have run very high, and it seems that we are more polarized than ever before. That may be true. With the news coming at us immediately now, we are feeling the stress of situations in almost real time, which is causing anxiety levels to fly off the chart.

The wife will tell you, I got home mentally upset and tired on Friday. The events from the day had me really going. There was so much anxiety and angst amongst people, especially ones that I consider my coworkers and friends. It is tough seeing people you love, who are close to you, with pain their eyes, as they are trying to also process and understand everything that has been going on in the world. It is especially hard for me, because I am a natural fixer, I want to run into the fire and help make things better. Call it a fatal flaw, but that is my nature, and to see people with that kind of pain hiding behind a smile, it makes someone like me very upset.

Then, this past Sunday, we had a guest priest in our Parish. He gave a masterful homily after the Gospel, and while he said many things, one part really stuck out to me. I could not have said it any better, and I wish I could have recorded it, but I will have to horribly paraphrase what he was talking about. He was talking about feeling alone in a crowd. He asked, when we feel like this, where are we supposed to turn to. I know the feeling of isolation very well. It is a paramount feature of my depression. I have also come to know that isolation is the handmaiden of the devil himself. Dividing people, secluding them, singling out the ones from the flock, those are all actions of a predator. All of a sudden, the message clicked. All of these seemingly random acts, the violence and hatred, the separation of people based on whatever category you want to give it… yes, those are the works of the devil.

The question then becomes, what do we do? How did I get over the whole thing? What hope did I find? There is no simple way to answer these questions. We all, and I mean all of us who call ourselves Christians, need to get back to the basic principles of the fundamental thing Jesus said, love your neighbor as you love yourself. This includes enemies, this includes family, this includes coworkers, this includes everyone you encounter. Even back then, there were culture wars, and people who hated each other just because they were from a different city. Those same problems exist today, yet, when coming from that place of love, Jesus was able to bridge the gap and bring people together. And we are called to emulate that, so, we too, need to come from a place of love. It is the only way we can find understanding amongst those of us who are different, both outwardly, and inwardly.  Our guest said this, “An eye for an eye is easy. A tooth for a tooth is easy. Love is much more difficult.” Difficult tasks become easier with repetition. We have to choose this difficult path, until it becomes easy for us.

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