Hide and Seek

I was always told that Mr. Gonano had eyes in the back of his head! Mr. Gonano was teaching music and band at my high school. I believe he always had an idea what was going on with all his students. Mr. Gonano usually didn’t confront everything he saw but kept us wondering just how much he was truly aware of.

I was reminded of Mr. Gonano when I started to reflect how we just can’t ever hide our sins from our Creator! So many times when I find myself repeating the same old sins and I rationally try to hide or dismiss my choices as being minor, just another hiccup in life. No big deal, right? Well, listen to this, I looked up the ingredients for rat poison and was astonished to read that the average bait used to kill a rat has only .005% poison in it. With that in mind when I reflect upon my ever so small sins they seem to be not but a hiccup but instead rodent poison. Just a tiny bit of poisonous sin, ruins my good efforts! I am a tainted man! Just ask those non-Christians witnessing my falls! Just ask the folks that imitate my actions or words! The fallen-one is very clever!

In the Gospel reading today (Matthew 8:28-9:1) we see pigs in a Jewish town. Swine were unclean by Jewish law, so why were they there? Some writers have said that the porkies belonged to some gentiles and other writers have said they were owned by the Jews and swine herding was not permitted by the law. But what stands out to me is that the town folks were very insistent about asking our Lord to leave! You are not welcome here! [Mt. 8:34] Was it because their sin was now exposed or was it the loss of profit from the destruction of the pigs?

Then I think back to the times as an energetic boy when my friends and I would play a game called “Hide and Seek”. It was even more fun to play in the dark with flashlights. We learned to use all of our senses as we searched for our hidden friends. And then when the light of our flashlight illumined their hideout, they were totally exposed and surrendered. The Light of Christ exposes my sins. But, I have to allow Him in! I have to want to be a better man!

So the question I ask today is: Are we just like the swine herders in the Gospel reading today telling our Savior to get out? Leave me alone as I am very comfortable here in my life of slop. I am comfortable allowing that .005% of poison to continue to separate me from encompassing love of God! I am comfortable allowing sin to slowly eat away at my soul. Abba Dioscorus writes: “If I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them.” (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers; Cistercian Publications pg. 55)

I say these things today and I ask: Isn’t it about time we quit hiding our sinfulness and spend the rest of our life seeking our Lord? It happens daily through repentance, prayer and forgiveness. It happens when we do battle within ourselves to allow light into our soul! Listen to the words of the Desert Father, Abba Arsenius: “Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accord with God, and you will overcome exterior passions.”(The Sayings of the Desert Fathers; Cistercian Publications; Pg. 10)

St. Clement of Alexandria gives us this advice as we strive for perfection: “The perfect person does not only try to avoid evil. Nor does he do good for fear of punishment, still less in order to qualify for the hope of a promised reward. The perfect person does good through love. His actions are not motivated by desire for personal benefit, so he does not have personal advantage as his aim. But as soon as he has realized the beauty of doing good, he does it with all his energies and in all that he does. He is not interested in fame, or a good reputation, or a human or divine reward. The rule of life for a perfect person is to be in the image and likeness of God.”

Our Lord knows all and He is waiting for you to help Him cleanse you of all your stains. He sees all! But until we are willing to move closer to the Light, He will patiently wait, loving every hair on your head, yearning for your surrender and return to His house. Quit hiding, life here is short and unpredictable. Come Home!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-12-2020

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

I’ve heard the phrase “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” so many times! It is a slogan used to sell wireless medical pendants to folks that find their physical stability to be a challenge at times. As advertised, with the push of a button, another person has been notified and will start a procedure to check on your welfare. It begins with an attempt of a conversation on the phone with a series of questions that helps the operator discern how best to help you. A neighbor or loved one can be contacted and if need be, and a medical person can be dispatched to your home to help you with your struggle. Since so many people live alone and find themselves secluded, this can be a great aide.

This is also a very orthodox phrase as well. It is the very words spoken by the great saints of the church through the course of their life as they called out for help in the midst of their struggles and asked God for help to get up! We all fall short and miss the mark at times! The writer of Ecclesiastes writes: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”(Ecclesiastes 7:20) And we read in Proverbs:”Everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins.”[Prov. 5:22] And please don’t look here for perfection as I have thick calluses on my knees, not from hours of lengthy prayers but from my frequent hard falls from the ladder of accent.

The good news for us is we have a gracious and loving Father who yearns for our return. We are never alone! Even in times when we find ourselves dreadfully tormented, there is always hope! Saint Ambrose recorded this: ‘But whoever are outside the promises of the heavenly commandments are in the outer darkness, because God’s ordinances are light, and whoever is without Christ is in darkness, because Christ is the inner light.”(Mathew 8:12) So for us, we need to be constantly seeking the Light. The darkness is deceiving; it is a silver-tongued salesman trying to sell us an ole clunker! And we all know that a clunker’s metal is rotting away and mechanically unable to get us where we need to go! Sometimes an ole clunker looks good but can’t even make it up the hill!

When I think of myself as an ole clunker, I am reminded of a show called Vegas Rat Rods. It is a show about reviving old clunkers into high performance vehicles. The Rat Rods still show plenty of rust and neglect, but their powertrain and drivetrain have been completely renewed and are once again, back on the road. Once the title has been surrendered and ownership changes hands, even though they still have some dents and wounds, the power house has been refreshed and with the push of a button or turn of a key, down the road they go.

You and I have some rust and some faulty parts as well. Life choices have taken their toll on us and we find ourselves rusting or scratching the deep itch from the worms of darkness eating at our flesh. We feel the pain of dents in our bodies from collisions we have had in life. Our past cannot be erased but it can be buffed and repowered to make us high performance vehicles on this bumpy road of life.

Your Father can restore that which is in you that is malfunctioning or dented. Your Father can help you if you just fall on your knees, repent and surrender your title of ownership over to Him. Stop being a little pope and get up! Come out of the scrap yard of life and let the Great Mechanic put you squarely on the road to salvation, super powered by the love of Christ and fueled by the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-5-2020