December 17, 2017
As Advent enters its last week (the season itself can not be shorter than it is this year), I have to discipline myself to refrain from rushing ahead into Christmas thoughts. So let me talk about the fact that this week we are trying some new dates and times for pre-Christmas confessions: you can find them elsewhere in the bulletin.
I want to share with you a brilliant thing that a kid said. At a religion class about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he got confused and talked about the sacrament of reorganization. The thing is this: that is just what most of us need to do in order to move forward in our relationship with the Lord.
We need to reorganize our priorities, our time/schedule, our commitments, our values, our work-play balance …. We need to reorganize all these things because, if we are still confessing the same old same old, it is because we have not made any changes; have not reorganized.
But I can’t do one more thing! This is exactly what reorganization is about: drop something that you know is not helpful in order to take up something that will promote and produce growth.
That ‘dropping’ piece is what we used to call self-denial. Without it, we will just always be what we have always been.
But that is hard to do! Did anyone ever say that discipling the Crucified one would be easy? Surely he did not! Doing the hard thing is called self-discipline. Without that we will never succeed in reorganizing.
As an old hoarder I can tell you with great authority that the frustration of living in my own mess is the price I have to pay for the comfort of not reorganizing. But it is just self-indulgence and a kind of greed that keeps me, like a pig, weltering in my own swill. Not pretty to say, not pretty to do!
We learned as kids about the sin of sloth and thought that it meant laziness. In fact, it has a really neat definition: depression in and about the spiritual life. It is that refusal that becomes hardened into a paralysis that becomes a discouragement about making changes in my life to match the changes God makes in his life -- incarnation, death and resurrection.
Bethlehem was not a comfortable setting for Jesus or Mary or Joseph. The flight into Egypt was driven by
fear of what would happen is they hung around in ‘enemy territory’. Are we less brave than they? Are the stakes any smaller for us then they were for them?
If you have nothing to confess but sloth, that is enough, it maybe says it all. And the proper ‘penance’ will be easy to determine. And the results will be easy to see.
But if we never confess sloth … I am reminded of the cartoon that showed two marsupials hanging upside down from a branch. Said one sloth to another: Gee! I thought we were lusts!
Really and truly and slothfully – not lustfully – yours,