Every time I publish one of these blog posts in which I talk about my spiritual life, I’m uncomfortable. After all, who am I to feel like I have anything to tell anyone about being a good and faithful servant of God? Attending a Catholic school from Kindergarten through 12th grade certainly doesn’t give me the necessary credibility. Especially since I was sent to the principal’s office on more than one occasion because my uniform skirt didn’t meet the necessary guidelines, i.e., touching the floor when kneeling at daily Mass. People – it was 1969! Oh, it did once I got to the principal’s office because the reason my skirt was short was that I had folded over the waist three or four times. It probably doesn’t surprise you that I didn’t really fool the principal when I entered her office with a skirt down to my knees. (It didn’t fool my mother either, but as good a Catholic as she was, she never really thought highly of some of the school rules. I remember when I was in grade school, a rule was issued that girls couldn’t wear sleeveless dresses to school. “Oh, yes,” I remember her saying, “because there’s nothing sexier than a 6-year-old’s underarms.”)
But I digress, something I do very well.
Despite my lack of credibility, the gospel readings keep slamming me in the face, and I need you all to assure me of my salvation. For example, in yesterday’s gospel from my old friend St. Mark, Jesus tells the rich man that in order for him to make it to heaven, he had to give away all of his worldly goods. Dang, thought the rich man. Gulp, thought I. St. Mark tells us the rich man’s “face fell” and I’m certain mine did. It does every time I hear that gospel. Heck, I don’t want to give away my big screen television. How am I supposed to watch the Broncos or Dancing With the Stars?
As I sat back to listen to Father Larry’s homily, I was prepared to hear him assure me that I didn’t have to give up my iPad after all. As I recalled, every time that particular gospel is read, the priests assure us that we don’t have to give up everything and eat only locusts and honey. To my relief, Father Larry did, in fact, assure me giving away everything was unnecessary. However, he put it in a way that actually made some sense. He pointed out that Jesus told the rich man that he should follow the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal and so on. The rich man assured him that he did indeed follow all of God’s commandments and had since a mere youth. For the most part, so do I, or at least I try.
But, said our homilist, Jesus went on to tell the rich man – and therefore me – that it isn’t simply what we don’t do, but just as important, or perhaps even more important, what we do.
Gulp, I thought again. Because the fact of the matter is that while I think about doing a lot, I mostly don’t getting around to doing anything. I can be more generous with my time and talents. When I get mail from nonprofits asking for money, I can actually give money instead of tossing them out without even opening the envelope. I always tell myself I should carry a stack of one dollar bills and when I’m at a stoplight where someone is holding up a cardboard sign, I could actually hand him/her a couple of dollars without thinking about whether or not he or she deserves my money. After all, it isn’t up to me to judge.
“Then who can be saved,” the disciples asked Jesus, who responded, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
Even saving my pitiful butt. I’m going right now to put some dollar bills in my car.