This is one of the most difficult Gospels that I have had to reflect upon in the past few years. How do we focus on following the will of God and act? It was hard reading the Gospel when it said that we were to hate our families: fathers, mothers, wife, husband, children, brothers and sisters, and even ourselves. The very thought of hating our own children and families is hard to process.
After considerable thought I became aware of what I believe is the true meaning of the statements that Jesus uttered. Jesus wants us to so focus completely on the Divine/The Holy One, that we must do all we can to become prayerful, obedient, convicted, focused, and determined so that nothing will come in our way to deter us from loving and obeying God. Now the difficult thing remains: how do we do this?
Each of us has different circumstances in our lives that call for commitment, love, responsibility, and focus. Most of these circumstances call us to be responsible for the loved ones in our lives. That is why we love our family and do all that we can to help them grow into mature adults who honor God and who honor the important truths in their lives. We help the adults in our family in all the ways we can because we love them and want the best for them. Sometimes we have falling outs with family members because of our stubbornness or errors of judgments. This is what Jesus is asking us to change. According to Jesus we must be willing to go the extra distance to reconcile relationships so we act and encourage others to act in love or respect towards others. Sometimes we have been hurt by others and are not willing to reach out and ask for forgiveness and understanding. It is easier to ignore pressing situations than to push through the pain.
I have been reminded recently of how difficult this can be. Remember the recent story of Antoinette Tuff, the staff member of a Georgia school who was confronted by a gunman who came into the front office of school with semiautomatic weapons, three hundred bullets, and an automatic pistol?
When she first saw the man in the main office she wanted to run. But she didn't. She stayed and began talking to him and the 911 operator on the phone. She expressed to the operator that she wanted to run away. But she didn't. She talked into the public address system and told the teachers to evacuate the building. Then she began talking to the gunman. She did not want to talk to the gunman because she was so scared. Her pain was up front and she said later that she had never been so scared. Antoinette talked to the gunman person to person ignoring her overwhelming fear. She pushed through her great pain of fear and proceeded to continue to talk to him. She talked to him as a real person and entered his mindset while still wanting to run away. She pushed through the pain of fear and led him to put his guns aside and cooperate with her. You know the ending of the story of the police coming in at the right time and taking him prisoner.
I use the example of Antoinette Tuff for a reason. When Anderson Cooper of CNN was interviewing her the next evening she talked about pushing through the pain in her regular life. During the past year Antoinette had gone through a divorce under difficult circumstances. We all have or are now having times when our life which can be very difficult. She had heard the pastor's wife talking about pushing through the pain to get closer to the Holy One who is Jesus. No matter what happens we need to get up each morning whether we feel like it or not and push through the pain of life to connect with God. No matter what happens we need to dwell on God our Mother and do all that we can do to live a holy and spiritual life.
No matter where we are in life we can reach out to others through our pain to relieve someone else's pain. Maybe we can go that extra distance to make a needed phone call to ease someone's grief. Maybe we can call our Senator or Congressman to tell them what you believe is the right decision to intervene in Syria. Maybe we could refrain from buying that extra piece of clothing that we wish we could have and send a gift certificate to a shelter. Maybe we can push through our physical pain to give away some of our possessions to the poor who do not have anything. Maybe we can push through our depression to see if we can volunteer any amount of time to help the stranger or a person in our family that is giving us some grief.
Thanking Father God for the difficulties in our live is another way to change the way we see things. Pushing through the pain, without knowing the results, is the way God wants us to come to Her. Depending on God in the uncertain times will be a way to increase dependence on God and do as the Gospel is asking us. Focusing on the divine at all times is giving God what God is asking of us. Talking about this is easy. Doing something about it is not.
This can become a paradigm shift in the way we view life. Always, always we must acknowledge that God is God and that She deserves all of our attention. God is living inside of all of us. When we see the people who take the time to peacefully want to change the political system as was demonstrated a year and a half ago at the Madison capital we know that God is present. We do not have to agree with them but we have to respect their commitment to push through the pain they are experiencing. When we see the workers at McDonalds go on strike for a weekend to present to the world that they are not being paid a livable wage, we must respect their commitment to push through the pain they, too, are experiencing. Agreeing with them is unimportant. But seeing their willingness to push through their pain in a peaceful manner is a basic American right.
Going the extra distance, pushing through the pain, doing a little more are metaphors for doing what is right. Even pushing a little more for increased compassion for ourselves is what God is expecting us to do. God does not want us to become radical extremists In our lifestyle changes. But God does want us to be more aware of the opportunities in our lives, however small they may be, to become more focused and aware of God's request to ever be changing our lives and others is to become more one with the Compassionate God.