Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Those Who Persecute You

     Last Sunday we had an intern gathering at the Hollywood house.  My roomies and I were each asked to lead a small Bible study with the others in attendance.  Having led a million of these in the past thanks to four years spent in the BU Catholic Center community, I of course had no qualms about it.  My group had a great discussion.  All four interns participated and shared views despite our differences.  We were practically finishing each other's sentences by the end of the short 25 minutes that we had.  I was super impressed with my fellow interns - this being the first real discussion I've had with anyone out here who seems to put as much thought and effort into their relationship with God as I do.
     The small group closed on a pretty awkward note however.  One of the members of the group, not one of the interns I should say, chose that particular moment to share some pretty negative sentiments toward the Catholic Church (ok, I've heard it before... this didn't surprise me too much), but she also had some rather negative things to say about Catholics in general.  These comments did surprise me - actually, "surprise" may be too light a word; "shock" may be more suitable.  She claimed that Catholics are not faithful like other Christian denominations and that we are close-minded because our Church does not accept homosexuality.  I didn't know whether to laugh at the absurdity of the claims (when is it ever valid to make such broad-sweeping generalizations?) or to defend myself and my faith (it hardly seemed like the moment or the place to get into an argument).  I took the middle ground and poked fun at her comments, to which she fired back some more antagonizing statements.  I let it go because we were running out of time, and I had to go play hostess.
     After having thought about all that transpired, I've found a bit of resentment, no... sadness, maybe even pity for this person.  Here she was claiming to be as Anglican and open-minded as they come, and yet she could not find it in herself to open her heart to her Catholic brothers and sisters.  To her, we don't know God.  To her, we prance around doing a lot of rituals, but don't understand their meanings.  And to some extent maybe she's right.  I read a study recently from the Pew Center that said that something like 70% of Catholics don't know that the eucharist is actually, truly God.  But I hardly think that these problems are limited to the Catholic Church.  I know people of all sorts of Christian denominations, some of whom talk to God on a daily basis, and some of whom look at me like I should be locked up in the crazyhouse when I start talking about the Holy Spirit.  The point is, Catholic or Anglican, Baptist or Methodist (I'm limiting myself to Christianity for now), we're all at different stages on our faith journey.  We're here to learn from each other and grow together, and I found it terribly ironic that this woman has such strong prejudices against some of her fellow Christians.  I suppose it fitting that the passage we had just read was the one from Matthew in which Jesus dispenses advice for dealing with adversity.  "Love your enemies," He says, "and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 4:44).

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