Our new pastor, Father Mark, is everything we prayed for and more. I basically just wanted him to be bi-lingual and under 80. He’s definitely more. He’s open, he listens, he’s willing to share himself personally. And he’s very challenging. Today he was poking at my sore spot. Pride.
Pride is my greatest sin. I’m not talking only about the usual kind of pride that I can imagine many of you nodding your heads vigorously in agreement over. “Yes, she’s definitely prideful, I can see that. No question that she is self-centered and a bit puffed up, clearly. I’m glad she can see that she really should be taken down a notch. Who does she think she IS anyway?!”
Yes, I’m guilty of that. Sorry. But maybe more worrisome, and surely more challenging a stumbling block is the kind of pride that causes me to usually live on the “Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright…oh yeah!” level and then every once in awhile resorting to the “Oh, Dear God….please help me” level. God and I have a pretty nice arrangement set up where I hold the reins for the most part. I choose when and how and if I want to follow Him, and then if I get into some especially rough waters, He’s promised to come in and save me …just until I get back on my feet.
Wow. Now that’s Pride.
Because, if I am being real, I can’t do it by myself most of the time. Or some of the time. I can’t live the way He asks me to live and love the way He asks me to love – with my every thought and every action of every day. No. Way. So I pretend that isn’t what He’s really asking. I tell myself that is just something to shoot for, but not something that I’m really expected to practice. I mean, c’mon…he knows what I’m made of. He couldn’t be asking me that.
Except it is.
Except it isn’t.
Because He never asked me to do it myself. He asks me to follow Him and to rely on Him. Not just sometimes. But to do that, I have to give up the reins. Annnd, I have some trust issues (imagining more vigorous head nodding). I’m just not really sure I can trust God. The Almighty Creator of the Universe. He who raised Lazarus. He who came to Life after Death. Yeah yeah yeah. Does He know the people I have to deal with though? Does He see how these people drive on the roads…and those law breaking cyclists everywhere? Has He met my mother, for Christ’s sake?? Besides, He’s up there talking with Jesus and Moses and talking about the Middle East and stuff. I’m not on his radar most of the time.
I sat with Father Mark for a minute today and gave him my sympathy for having to do the meet and greet on the front steps after Mass. I may be almost as much of an introvert as he is, and I really can see his pain. “It’s a cross I bear” he said with zero irony. I told him that his homily hit home with me and that I struggle giving up the reins.
He said “Try doing this a couple times a day” and rubbed his hands together and showed the backs and the palms of his hands to an imaginary casino surveillance camera like dealers do when they leave the table. The gesture struck me as a kind of a way to pause and shake something off – a physical reminder of a spritual reality. The reality that we don’t hold the reins and that we don’t have to. Thank God!!
Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you. If you see me making this gesture, you’ll know what it’s about. Offering it up, as we like to say.