A few days ago there was a relatively important game in sports. There are two college football teams in my state that are minor rivals. I feel like I favor one of them, but really, I don’t care at all. I didn’t watch the game, but I heard all about it on the internet. Apparently, due to a mistake by a player on one team, their apparently certain victory turned into a loss with less than ten seconds left. I was initially happy because the game went to the team I pretend to favor, but then I saw the ugly side. People supporting the losing team were extremely angry with the player who made the mistake. Some of them suggested that he commit suicide. Others offered to do the deed themselves.
So what is the lesson to be learned here? I am arrogant. It is very easy for me to see the ugliness of people who are driven to sin regarding sports because my anger and wrath are activated by different things. It is easy for me to point a finger here and see myself as better, all the while ignoring what St. Paul says: “consider others as better than yourselves”. Ironically, I find myself resenting these people, and fortunately for me, the homily given yesterday at church was about resentment.
People filled with resentment cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Christ makes this clear when he tells us that if we have resentment toward a brother, we should not make an offering until that is made right. I’ve heard in all groups of Christianity that if one has a terrible issue with a brother, he should not take communion. Combine that with Christ’s teaching that “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves”, and we see that those holding resentment have a pretty bleak future, unless they find a way out of this sin.
Fortunately for me again, the priest offered a solution: love. He says that only love can conquer resentment, reminding us of Christ’s command to “Love your enemies”. I find myself turning back once again to my past blog post about the Anti-Grudge. This is necessary. In that post, I listed people whom I intend to never forget for their kindness, yet I, at times, slip into resenting some of those very people. Fortunately, those people have made it easy to remember positively. They were very good to me for a time.
My spiritual father teaches that the origin of love is development of humility and obedience. This makes sense to me because those are two very hard things. Humility is elusive because it is a very difficult balance to strike. It is to think of oneself very little. It is NOT to think little of oneself. Humility doesn’t say you are bad. It doesn’t really talk about you much at all. Humility is truth, but it is interested in others around you. I struggle very much with this. This is the opposite of selfishness which is so natural for me.
Obedience is also very difficult. Obeying something you want to obey isn’t really obedience. That’s doing what you want to do, with the added benefit that it makes others happy. Obedience is hard. Obedience is doing what I have no interest in and doing it well. I hate sleeping at night. My spiritual father wants me to sleep at night. That is obedience, when I do it. I could write an entire blog post about all my excuses for being awake at night. I’ve acquired a lot of them, and I usually listen to them instead of my spiritual father. When I learn to sleep at night and focus on others, then I’ll know something about love. Maybe then, I won’t care that some random church said some mean things to me nine years ago. Maybe then, I’ll have something nice to offer to God on the alter.