Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Keep our eyes on Jesus

‘Distracted’ asked, “How do you not get scandalized by things that are happening around you and just concentrate on strengthening your spiritual life?” I can’t remember the saint who said it, but there is a quote that has always stuck with me about being scandalized by others. It says something to the effect of, “if we are truly living humility, we will never be scandalized by the actions of others”. Having a humble view of myself means that I recognize my own weaknesses and that I am capable of doing great acts of evil at any time. I am not surprised, then, when others show their weaknesses in extraordinary ways. It is part of our human condition that we have a strong desire (concupiscence) toward sin.

In addition, it helps to regularly hear Gospel passages regarding the actions of others so that the Word of God becomes engrained in us. For example, Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” (v. 3). While our Lord makes an exaggerated statement, the point is made: we have a lot of things to work on in our own moral and spiritual lives before we start pointing out the sins of others. This is a point for us to ponder often.

Also, a relevant and powerful quote from St. Francis de Sales who saw a fair share of scandals in his life. He said, "While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder [i.e., destroying other people's faith in God by their terrible example], those who take scandal-who allow scandals to destroy their faith-are guilty of spiritual suicide”.

In the overall question of not getting distracted in the spiritual life, I think about the scene where Peter walks on water in Matthew 14. “Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

One of the main points from this scene is to always keep our focus on Christ. When Peter came out of the boat (which is commonly used in Scripture and art as a symbol of the Church), his eyes were on Christ. He was walking on water! As long as we keep our eyes on Christ, we will do great things! Peter believed in Jesus and in his power, and he wasn’t afraid to come out of the boat in the midst of a storm. But, when he takes his focus off of Christ and pays more attention to the storm around him, that’s when he begins to sink. He became filled with fear which is the opposite of faith. His faith kept him strong; his fear brought him weakness.

Whatever storms we have in our own lives, we need to stay focused on Christ. Especially if our storms are because of the sins of others, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. He’s the only one who can truly help us through the storm. It’s not that we ignore the serious sins of others, but we approach them with faith and humility. This will more likely lead to charity and compassion, and ultimately, forgiveness. This is what it means to stay focused on Christ in the midst of storms in our lives, especially the storms of scandal.

18 Comments:

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

That is exactly what I am working on and it is working-looking at the beam in my eye. I guess its easier to point fingers at others
than really look at oneself.

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

I finally got to admit to myself that I am a sinner and it doesn't feel too great. :0(

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

On a happier note "Thank You Lord for the wonderful weather and sunshine and the wonderful parish mission!!! I invited a friend and she loved it !

 
At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made a decision a few years ago to refrain from participation with gossip. I do not gossip about others, and I do not listen to others doing it. I frequently excuse myself from someone or some group who is engaged in talking about someone else. It isn't because I am "shocked" or "appauled" by their behavior. Rather, I walk away because I know how easy it is to get embroiled in it. It's tempting to momentarily feel good about myself by looking down on the actions of someone else. That definately distracts me from becoming the person I want to be. I look to our priests as a great example for this. They listen to our confessions, and rather than becoming absorbed with any shocking quality of our confession, they offer us forgiveness and prayer. It makes me believe that we all are capable of doing this for each other.

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confession question-
It's been quite some time since my last confession. In fact, since my last confession I've made some significant changes in my life, and honesty, especially with myself, has become of great importance to me. So, now being honest with all of you, most of my previous confessions did not address the BIG stuff. I've begun compossing my laundry list of unconfessed sins and began wondering about something. There are so many things I've done in my lifetime that aren't mortal sins, but are wrong enough that I know warrant a confession. To confess to each instance would take 4ever, and I'd, from lack of a clear memory (directly related to some of my sins) undoubtedly leave much out. Does it suffice to confess to "all the times in my past when I...."? I really do wish we could write down our cofessions and submit them to our priest. When I open my mouth, my words get lost.

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't been to confession with either one of the priests now at SAA. Does anyone know if they mention things you confessd outside the confessional again to you? Should I expect what I confess to be a conversation I will again have at a later date?

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger fran said...

I would like to refer you to a website that may help answer your questions; it is www.the-light-is-on.org There is a list of frequently asked questions, and I know the one that you ask, is addressed.

 
At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

It has always been my experiance that anytime anything I have gone to confession has come up outside confession is because I brought it up later in my Spiritual Direciton meetings with Fr. Greg becuase if it is something I am confessing it probably is something I am struggling with or is rooted in something I am struggling with. But neither Fr. Greg or Fr. Mike has come up to me and said "Hey Kat I wanna talk to you about your confession last saturday, you are truly a wierdo" ... well Fr. Greg probably thinks I am a wierdo but that has nothing to do with confession :)

The seal is the seal is the seal. Not to mention some of the times I have brought something up outside the sacrament I usually have to remind Fr. Greg what I am talking about because he usually doesnt remember or doesnt remember the details. But again I am the one who brings it up not Fr. Greg.

Does that answer your question or did I confuse you?

 
At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" I really do wish we could write down our cofessions and submit them to our priest. When I open my mouth, my words get lost."

Anon, initially that is exactly how I felt. But I am glad I vocalized my sins because then it became more real to me because I was saying them out loud to another person. You then look at your list and go "Man I really need to work on these things."

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incidentally why can't we call our sins 'mistakes"?

 
At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A protestant person told me that they read in the paper that St. Mary's College was taking down crosses to make the non-Christian students more comfortable is this true?

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a family member who is Jewish. When one of my chilldren asked why she doesn't have a crucifix in her home, she told her that she is offended by the symbol of the cross. I know that b/c she is the sole Jew in our large Catholic family, she has a tendency to be a bit defensive about her faith, and I didn't feel comfortable asking her why she felt that way. I can understand that this is not her faith, but why is the cross offensive? I do not find the Star of David "offensive". She and my cousin just had a baby boy, and I'm guessing my cousin can kiss passing his Gonzaga legacy on goodbye!

 
At 10:50 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon, 10:03 pm. asked: "Incidentally, why can't we call our sins mistakes?"

If you go back to a post on October
4th, by Father Greg, you will find your answer. Hope you find it helpful.

 
At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Fran I did and it helped.

 
At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

Anon 10:27pm,

I think I wrote this before but due to my advanced age I can't remember.

I have a cousin who married a Catholic and they decided if they have boys they will be raised Catholic and if they have girls they will be raised Taoist. They did this to make things "fair". They have two girls so that is it for the end of the Catholic faith for them. I am just glad my uncle wasn't alive to see this!

 
At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

oops the above should have said married a Taoist.

 
At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

On another note: My godmother decided to change religions from Catholic to Southern Baptist about a year ago (my godfather passed away years ago). How do I help her back to the Catholic faith or should I even try? I think its a bit ironic that I need to help my "godmother" who promised to help raise me Catholic.

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Night Owl,

Tough question about your Godmother! Difficult to answer w/out knowledge of WHY she left the Catholic Church. I have in-laws who are Baptist. They have many misconceptions about the Catholic Church. We have spent years - my hub and myself- debating/answering thier questions. I have to say - they are the ones who motivated me to learn/read the scriptures. How else could I defend the faith since Baptists do not believe in tradition or Papal authority? You have to start with common ground - the scriptures. Also our talks/debates remain focused on Christ and how He unites us. Also we remain mutually loving. Argumentation will drive them away. Love, gentleness, service, knowledge of the scriptures, and ability to defend the faith are the best witness/defense of the Catholic faith.

 

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