Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Politians and Pontius Pilate

“…he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd…” (Mt. 27:24)

            I’m not a germaphobe, but I am a mother, and can appreciate the communal health benefits of proper hygiene.  Aside from: “sit up straight,” “don’t talk with your mouth full,” and “wipe that look off your face or I’ll do it for you,” I’d wager the survey poll would place, “wash your hands” in the top ten of “Mom’s most frequent commands”.  Something tells me, however, that in that infamous moment when Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death, a shout out to his mom with an act of proper hygiene was not the intention of the spineless procurator when Sacred Scripture tells us: “he washed his hands”. 
            So what was the big deal there?  Why was it so crucial to note, amid this dreadful deicide proclamation, that the guy calling the shots decides to clean his hands?  We know that it is only through the Holy Spirit and Divine Will that the Living Word of the Gospel was composed.  There are no useless words added so we can deduce that the above quoted comment in St. Matthew’s Gospel has significant importance and relevance. 
            He washed his hands.
            Through the truths taught to us in our Catholic faith we know this gesture performed by Pilate before the crowd is packed with meaning.  To him, it was his attempt to make clear that although he believed in the innocence of the man, Jesus, he was going to go along with the will of the people.  He would cave and give them what they wanted.  But, by golly, it wasn’t going to be his fault!
            How convenient.  How spineless. How immoral. 
To our Lord, this hand washing gesture was far more egregious.  Why is this so offensive to Jesus?  I think if we could truly see in horrific, bloody, graphic detail what our Savior looked like on the Cross, we might get a hint of the enormity—the resulting consequences when someone knows what is right, but does wrong anyway.  What happens when people cave, when those in the position to correct a wrong wash their hands?  Injustice wins.  Truth is suppressed.  Evil prospers.
Most everyone grew up learning the Bible story of Jesus.  They understood, from a young age, the lesson taught through the example of that Roman governor.  Each Lent we revisit the scene and shutter at the actions of Pontius Pilate.  We see vividly on the Cross the ramifications of a person who refused to stand up for what they knew to be true, and decent, and right. 
Which brings me to the subject of our modern-day politicians.  I can’t help but be reminded these days when I see these high-profile, “Catholic” politicians—washing their hands in the sight of the crowd—when they state that, personally, they do not believe in abortion, or same-sex marriage, or transgenderism, or a bevy of other issues, but they cannot impose their beliefs on others.  It wouldn’t be right, they say.  They are speaking with forked tongues.   
            I would love to be able to call out to these political leaders and get them to see the shocking truth, the magnitude of the wrong they perpetrate.  Look to the Crucifix and see what you are doing!  I say this with great love in my heart for you, and I pray that God gives you the grace necessary to stand up against the pressure of a world clamoring to have its way.  The people demand it, just like the Jews and their horrible cries against God, which even now hauntingly echo through the ages, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”
            You think you can escape from any responsibility when you side with this voice of the people over the Truth?  Make no mistake, just like Pontius Pilate—who’s name lives in the infamy of sorry, spineless souls—there will be an accounting.  You will someday stand before your Divine Judge and only then you will see the extent to which you offend God by your actions. 
            But this great injustice does not rest on a mere few.  We must all open our eyes, and ears, and hearts to see what is Truth!  The world would have us believe it doesn’t really matter.  The end justifies the means.  Oh, such a horrible, evil statement.  Sin is sin.  Wrong is wrong.  Let us open our eyes wide and make a stand for what is right, and join hearts in prayer for Mercy and Truth in our broken, corrupt world. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Living Rosary

Religious fervor has its ebbs and flows in my life, but, remarkably, in recent years—the flows are a more common occurrence.  This is true for one reason only: frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament.  I know this without a doubt as some years ago I started walking the short distance from my home to the chapel to sit with Him there. (Jesus is practically my next-door-neighbor as I can see our Catholic Church from my kitchen window.)  Those early visits were short.  I found it to be boring; and I would put in my ten minutes then hustle out for seemingly much more important things to do…
               But the Blessed Mother wrapped me up in the mantle of her grace.  She is a persistent mother, and escorted me more and more until I didn’t have to be coaxed and prodded.  I understand now—as much as this puny, simple, sinful brain can—the great value of this Pearl, and I’m hooked. 
               As it can be with puny, simple, sinful humans though, it’s hard to keep my interest for long.  I get distracted easily by flashy colors and loud noise.  In my lukewarm complacency, I will be full of fervor and devout prayer for a while, then I think, “Woe, there, Teresa.  That’s good enough.  No need to overdo it.”
               Sometimes, though, when I’m firing on all cylinders, I spend my day as a living rosary.  What is that, you ask?  A living rosary (which, incidentally, I just now gave that name) is me, and the precious, priceless times when I cooperate with my queen and I pray a continual Hail Mary throughout my day.  As a slave to her Immaculate heart, I unite in her powerful mission to save souls.     
               Our minds our forever flitting from thought to thought, especially in the hectic chaos of life in the trenches.  Within a living rosary I become the beads, so to speak, and unite my life and experiences through the heart of Mary to her Son.  At each sorrow, or fear, or thanksgiving—I commend all to the Blessed Mother, so she, in turn, will present it to Jesus.  All in Jesus, through Mary.  My life—in the Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacrament, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 
               So, when that obscure person pops into my mind—the one I haven’t thought of in years—I pray, “Hail, Mary…”  My mind goes to my husband at work, as he is trying to tackle some computer software code, I pray, “Hail, Mary…”  That distressing image or concern for a family member prompts an immediate intercessory prayer, over and over and over.  Each of my children is a forever thought, a constant worry, and I earnestly pray from a mother’s heart to a mother’s heart: “Hail, Mary, pray for us, now and always…”  
               When I see that colorful butterfly, floating amongst the blooms in my front gardens, I smile and pray a Hail Mary that through her pure heart, a perfect song of praise will festoon the throne of God, my Creator.  At the grocery store, as much as my eyes are open, I see countless petitions: the frazzled mother with two carts and cranky children, the person who voices their displeasure in the parking lot, the old man who seems to be in so much pain… “Hail, Mary, full of grace…”  
               A distressing story in the news, the election, a Facebook friend’s comment, are all opportunities to cooperate in a call to link arms—like links in a rosary chain—with my brothers and sisters in this battle for souls and pray for the conversion of sinners.  In the bathroom or laundry room—the bank or in the blessed sunshine, I raise my thoughts to her, and beg for grace in our world, in my home, dispensed from the hand of her who is our life, our sweetness, and our hope. 
               And at the end of the day, I crawl into bed and smile when I can recall the day in which I cooperated with that tremendous grace.  I feel the pleasure of God, and know that the gift of ordinary holiness does not come from me, but only from God.  There is such joy in doing His will, and I know for me, it starts with time before the Blessed Sacrament.  Then this living rosary goes out into my little corner of the world and I do what is seemingly so small and insignificant, but actually has incredible power: I pray.
“Hail, Mary, full of grace… Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.”