I don’t forgive betrayal. There I said it. My struggles with resentment and self-righteousness are rooted in betrayals by those I have loved and trusted. I pray for an open heart. A few years ago, I served as friend and mentor to someone by sharing my experiences and advice. I was betrayed when this individual compromised my safety and that of my child. (Betrayal blues) I still have not forgiven this person. I pray for the open heart to do so. I stay praying.
On Holy Thursday, the Gospel and Mass call us to reflect on Jesus and the washing of feet. Jesus’s act of humility is met with resistance. Peter tells Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” Peter has respect for his teacher. He doesn’t understand why he’s on the ground washing others’ dirty feet. Jesus tells them he is modeling how they will live. Peter may be a potential leader but he has not learned that true leaders are servants. Jesus even washes Judas’ feet. Jesus knows Judas is his betrayer. Washing his feet won’t change that. Yet Jesus serves him in the same way he does for all the disciples.
Caravaggio’s Betrayal of Jesus
People will turn on me and disappoint me. I have to serve them. I struggle with being a servant for everyone. I will be civil and polite but I will bear a grudge. I pray that I can be a humble servant to all. I pray that I love those who are not equipped to love others or even themselves. May my love help inspire others to serve the world.
On the 3rd Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading was about the Samaritan Woman at the Well. I’m reflecting on being that woman. I’ve been a lector at my new parish for two years and Eucharistic minister for almost a year. I think about do I deserve to be in front of all these people?
My involvement in parish ministry began during the darkest period of my life. There were times when I wondered if the church building wouldn’t collapse on my head. It didn’t. I found that the parish priests I worked with, no matter where they were on the spectrum of conservativeness, were always merciful, kind, compassionate, and patient. Over a decade later, I’m still on that journey to be spiritually healthy. When I proclaim the Word or share the Body and Blood of Christ, I feel like I’m getting closer to achieving peace. I feel like He’s working through me. I feel like I’m the very best person I could possibly be when I’m in that sacred time and space.
I’m well aware that I’m a sinful person. But I’ve been accepted, welcomed, and embraced. I won’t walk away from that. Even when my faith falters and I’m filled with doubt about the choices I’ve made in my life, even when I wonder if I’m worthy, I can’t walk away from what saved my life.
Yes, it’s living water! Yes, it changes people. So as long as I can, I will serve God in small ways and I won’t ashamed. It’s not me that’s up there speaking aloud. It’s not me serving. It’s Someone greater. Yes, how great Thou art!
Art by Liz Lemon Swindle
On the 2nd Friday of Lent, the Dynamic Catholic reflection discussed spiritual health. We were encouraged to nurture our souls as we do our bodies. Matthew Kelly talked about the 10 minutes of prayer he has recommended for many years as part of his ministry. He also went over the Dynamic Catholic prayer process. That morning, I went through the process which then made me reflect on forgiveness. Forgiveness continues to be an area of growth for me.
I do hold grudges. It’s hard for me to get past wrongs that I feel folks have done to me or those I love. My anger may fade but doesn’t go away. I’ll be civil and polite a la Ben Linus.
Ben Linus knew better than to try to be up in the church
But this is actually deceitful, passive-aggressive, and petty. It’s duplicitous. So I prayed for those I have wronged through my words and judgments. Several individuals are people I work with daily. Some I avoid. Some I choose to make contact with more often. While that may sometimes be the Ben Linus effect, I am also pushing myself to be more open no matter what my personal opinion and feelings might be. These people have the right to dignity and respect. Why take the low road and not show kindness? I pray for the gift of forgiveness.
I also pray to be free of self-righteousness. I own my flaws. But usually this leads me to consider myself superior to those I do not love. I feel that I’ve done the work in becoming more aware of my weaknesses; why don’t these people get there? That sort of thinking is unfair and unkind. I stop thinking of these people as individuals with private lives and focus on my history with them. This person lied, created an unsafe situation, betrayed my trust, and disappointed me or any combination of these wrongs or all of the above. This person makes bad choices and I disapprove. This person needs to get right or get left. Yet I am unwilling to be a guide or a model. I disconnect and judge and don’t offer forgiveness.
I was part of a marathon meeting that week. Our organization discussed the ways we can alienate others in how we present who we are. It’s not that we shouldn’t be honest and air our grievances or share our opinions. It gave us an opportunity to own the behavior and to confirm that there is a time and place for certain conversations. I myself have struggled with this issue in my professional life. If I have personal problems with someone, it’s not fair to involve others. I strive to keep my personal grievances private and to make time for thoughtful analysis of my thoughts, words, and actions. It may be difficult but it is necessary. In asking for God’s forgiveness, I must first forgive others.