Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When the Family Struggles

Every parish is a family, a community and communion formed in Christ. And ever parish is filled with sinners, isn't it? No one is exempt from praying, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner."

Families struggle, and they run into rocky times as stubborn and sinfully selfish wills collide. Fact of life. It happens.

But what do we do then?

Around any flare up, one finds many opinions. People have explanations. Folks choose up sides. And then there may be "investigations" to get the facts. What was said? When was it said? Who said it? Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts. And, this may well be helpful.

But, we are the Body of Christ and members of it.

That means, that we all pray "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner." And we recognize that we are still joined in Christ in His Church. He has gathered us. As strong as the temptation may be, this isn't the time to run off into some corner with friends to sulk, or to plot, or to endlessly rumble on about what was wrong and how we, of course, were not wrong.

It is, however, time to gather again at Christ's Holy Altar. It is time to confess our sin, and to carefully prepare as we thoughtfully pray the prayers before Holy Communion. By humbling recognizing that we are indeed still brothers and sisters and Christ, we can move on.

There is definitely a time to recognize that what's happened has happened, and all the arguing in the world can't change it. We are still joined in Christ, and the Evil One is hard at work trying to divide us -- especially by egging us on to lift our noses in the air and show everyone how righteous I am! Let it go. Learn, but let it go, and be joined again in Christ our God.

As we face the ups and downs of life together, and as we are indeed hurt and attacked at times by those whom we love, think on the words of this petition from "Morning Prayers" in the Orthodox Study Bible:

Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon those who envy and affront me, and do me harm, and do not let them perish through me, a sinner.
So many of the hassles that afflict and divide us in our parishes (and in our families) are just so much wasted time as our eyes are directed everywhere else but to Jesus, author and perfector of faith!

I'm reminded of a poster from the 1960's which read "What if they gave a war and nobody came." What would happen in our lives if, when some of these arguments arose, we each said, "I'm not playing."

Look to Jesus, author and perfector of faith!

And remember, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

Then at least some of the family struggles would be quickly laid to rest as we realize that Christ has delivered us from the Evil One (and from ourselves!)


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