Just over ten years ago I was caught up in some life choices that did not go over too well with my father. And for good reason, I might add. But the crushing part was how my dad treated me. I understood the anger in it all, yet I felt shut out from his love, from his counsel. It certainly wasn't the first time I had disappointed my father or other members of my family. However, it was the first time he treated me as an outsider. Or at least that's how I felt. It was as if I had been excommunicated from that side of my family. I was heartbroken. I also knew it was my actions that had caused such turmoil. It was a tough road to travel. I kept my feelings inside until now because I didn't want it to be about me. It was the first grown-up thing I ever did for an extended period.
And then came this whole father/son business with Christianity. The idea of God came to me suddenly but coming to terms with Jesus, and his Father was quite another trip. How could I possibly trust a Father I can't see, that did the things I was convinced he did; like ask Abraham to slaughter his son, or destroy the world leaving Noah drunk on the beach, and claims He loves me? It was similar to how I felt about my father. He told me he loved me too. Many times. But just like God, he didn't want to get to know me. You know the real me. The funny thing is even if my dad had asked, or God for that matter, I couldn't have possibly given either one of them an answer that was sufficient. To them. To me. To anyone.
I do not write this to throw my father under the bus. I know he loved me. I loved him. We both did the best job we could in our time together with what we had. Plus, I have worked with kids long enough to know how truly blessed I am with the people I have, and I have had, in my life. There is real tragedy out there that I pray each day asking how I can be of assistance. I'm just an overly emotional, overly sensitive, you know, a guy with an ego disorder.
You see, the point is that I had long ago come to terms with the intellectual God our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I had no doubts. And when they crept up I had learned from the Vicar of Christ himself to pray his prayer, "Lord I believe, but help my unbelief." I loved it. The Pope himself showing such humility. Again, the idea of an Apostolic Church was another reason I had started to fall in love with the Catholicism. And that is exactly what I'm writing about here, falling in love. It was about two years ago I had started to see Jesus as a friend. The intellectual version that, yes, God did exist had taken a turn towards realizing He was listening. That there was a relationship to build here. It was new and exciting and powerful. My prayer life was all over the place: messy, sometimes routine, I often (and still do) felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I prayed every day, but the when, where and how was a real moving target.
And then I heard someone ask how I was going to answer the following question from God when I died. "Did you read my book?"
Would I say I didn't have time? Maybe I could tell him it was too difficult to read. But how would I know that? I had never even cracked it open. And then there's that whole He would know I was lying to Him thing. Maybe I could tell him I had read bits and pieces of it while at church. You know, as my mind begins to wonder if everybody here is judging me and keeping tabs on how long I kneel before and after the Mass. The important stuff in life that keeps me from fully engaging in the Mass on a regular basis. And that's not to say that I don't love the Mass as well. I do. It is so rich in the Old and New Testament and the Word of God, but, I too, am just human. My mind wonders off into the "it's all about me" world. I do cherish those times when I can get through an entire Mass or prayer session or any other event in my life when I can fully engage for the whole time. The idea behind "God is in the Now" is to do whatever you are doing as if it is the most important thing in the world. Playing with a child, hanging out with your spouse, Mass, shaving, doesn't matter.
But I digress... as I often do...
So how did I get to know Jesus as a friend? I read His book. Sounds too simple to be true, but that's exactly what I did. And then came what I believe is the true payoff of praying for my father each and every day for the past year. It was in repairing that relationship that I learned how to love God as my own Father. Mixed in with praying the Rosary building yet another relationship with my spiritual Mother. And becoming completely blown away by what the Son did.
So I leave you with the two things that I came away with this Christmas... O Come Let Us Adore Him... and.... Peace be With You.