Receiving, Retaining, and Reflecting
James 1:22-25 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Oh the “Gift” to see yourself in others… Be it good or bad, it is truly a “Gift”.
“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:1-3).
When I was still a political blogger, but, on the road back home, there is no doubt, the Holy Spirit allowed me to obtain this beautiful gift. Just after the last presidential election, I obtained a bumper sticker with the words “Socialism Sucks” with the Obama logo next to the words. I laughed but in my heart, something very strong, told me not to place it on my car. You see, I was in a crucial point in my conversion, in getting rid of the things in my heart of all that was causing me to be separated from the love of our Lord. Doing away with even the simplest stumbling blocks that caused me distress or all things unholy.
Of course, in a moment of falling, I placed it on my truck anyway. I felt “Icky” with it there. Yes, I do not agree with socialism or communism very strongly, but the very act of placing it on my car to me, was a sign of “Vainglory”. It stuck out in so many ways rather then for what it said, but as a reflection of “Myself” looking for a pat on the back from anyone else who agreed and causing others who did not agree to cringe when they seen it. It just so happened, I was blessed to see the latter of an event as such, with my own eyes.
It had been a few months after placing the sticker on my truck. I was on my way to pick up the children from preschool and I was stopped at a red light. I heard all sorts of screaming from another car, so I looked to my left. There, next to me, was a woman, all shades of purple and green, screaming every “figurative name” known to man, at me. I was set back. First, I couldn’t grasp why she was so angry with me as I hadn’t driven in a manor that would have caused her or her car any amount of harm and then she started to scream at the top of her lungs, “Socialism Sucks???!!! “Socialism Sucks???!!! At least THEY take care of their people” I knew then, my bumper sticker had been the object of her anger. Her anger exculated the more she screamed. At that moment, I heard my heart telling me, look at her, its you. You in your youth. You when things did not go your way. I sat stone face looking at this woman, with so much regret for my sins as I was seeing the mirror image of the person I used to be. I was moved with so much mercy for her, I could not say a word back in any amount of anger. I seen a soul so enraged with hate, I could only pray for her, and make my first priority to remove the sticker when I returned home.
It did not end with the screaming. As the light turned green and traffic began to move, she gunned her car, squealing the tires and cut into my lane, cutting me off, all while screaming at me. I felt no anger towards this poor soul. I felt only compassion for her. Be it that it was the bumper sticker that caused this, or the fact being, it was her final straw before losing all self control, I had been a part of it. How many times in my life I had done such things as this to others. How my rage and anger took over for something so trivial. How I had given so much meaning to things where meaning was never useful for positive growth but rather, was plunging me deeper into darkness. I did not honk at her, I did not yell back, I did not scream, I did not become angry, and most of all, I was not scared of the situation. I just prayed for her, and forgave her, asking our Lord to forgive me, for ever placing the sticker on my car in the first place. Then, thanking Him, for allowing me to see myself in such a way.
This was an extremely valuable lesson for me that day. The gift has given me the ability to see each and every human being in a light so different, including myself, that I can no longer miss God’s love, forgiveness and mercy.
“Through the fear of the Lord, we rise to piety, from piety then to knowledge, from knowledge we derive strength, from strength counsel, with counsel we move towards understanding, and with intelligence towards wisdom and thus, by the sevenfold grace of the Spirit, there opens to us at the end of the ascent the entrance to the life of Heaven” (Homiliae in Hiezechihelem Prophetam, II 7,7)Pope St. Gregory the Great”