Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Illogic of God's Justice

The founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, James Alberione always emphasized an attitude of studiosita, that is, to learn from all experiences in life.

While some of Alberione's teachings are not intuitive to me, this is one that rings true immediately. This is an attitude that I have always had; I think about everything that I experience and try to integrate it into my ideas and thoughts. If an experience clashes with my currently held beliefs and ideas, I wrestle with it until it is more or less resolved in my mind. Some things I have never resolved and these questions reemerge in my mind throughout my life in the hope that one day they will be resolved by prayer, an experience, a person, or a book.  I know some of my questions will never be answered until I reach heaven, but I like to try to work out whatever I am capable of working out, which probably is not much.

One thing that I have been thinking about is justice and fairness. As I live in community, I have noticed how consumed I am by these concepts. It is a necessary part of community life to always split up things; chores, work time in the book center, food, gifts from others. And I have found myself obsessing when I feel like something is not fair, maybe one person has asserted her needs over the needs of others, or another person got to choose something first before anyone else got a chance. Sometimes I am at the winning end of the situation because I have asserted myself or by sheer luck I ended up with exactly what I wanted and other times I am at the losing end.

The other day I was at the losing end of one of these situations. But before I voiced my complaint I checked in with Jesus in my mind and He clearly told me to keep quiet so I did. I did not vocalize that I thought the situation was unfair but in my mind I threw a serious temper tantrum and later when I was in the chapel I let Him have it.

"Why do I have to keep quiet Jesus? I'm so tired of compromise! I want to go back to my old life where I could do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted! Am I going to constantly be giving up my needs and wants for other people. I HATE THIS, it is getting old."  

As I prayed in chapel, I felt Jesus' empathy and sweet love. Jesus does not react to our anger in the same way that people do. In fact, when I am honest with Him, I can tell that He appreciates it. He likes it when I am real with Him, because lets face it, He can already see our hearts.

As I prayed, I was staring at the outline of a cross that stands up on the bottom of our kneelers. When I closed my eyes, the shape of the cross was etched in my mind, outlined in light. Suddenly, I realized what Jesus was trying to say to me.

"Was it fair that I died on the cross? I am God, your Creator.  I was innocent and I died on a cross to save you, a sinner. Fairness is not what I am all about Theresa. I came to serve. If you are going to follow me, you need to do the same."

I suddenly thought of when I was a child and I would split a dessert with one of my siblings. We would make sure that each piece was exactly even, not even a centimeter different. I thought of our society, how we are obsessed with equality, sometimes at the expense of everyone's overall well being. I realized that I was giving into the ways of the world and Jesus was pulling me back to the illogic of the Christian message - it is not about perfect equality, it is about serving the other in love.

As I return to my life after this prayer experience I am honest with myself. I am still going to throw temper tantrums, in my mind and probably out loud, (I apologize in advance to the patient sisters I live with). I am still going to assert my needs and I hope that Jesus helps me to discern when it is necessary. But I hope that from now on I try to see situations that are not fair with the eyes of faith.

Jesus allows everything that happens to us to occur. I have to believe that when I am on the losing end of a situation that I really am on the winning end, because Jesus is using it to teach me something.

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