Resistance

Dear Folks,
Today we talk about resistance. Resistance and negative feedback are essential to life from the beginning. Having boundaries is necessary for survival and learning that some things are good and some things are bad are key to developing the ability to make decisions. When stacking up blocks one way ends with them falling down, one learns to stack them up differently until one has a tower. Learning that one way of talking makes people upset and another way of talking makes people smile is key to learning how to communicate in a human way (I learned the hard way that verbal skills are one thing and communicating to other people in a positive and helpful way is quite another). In monitoring people’s reactions, positive and negative, we learn to connect to people better. If we are not sensitive to people’s feedback, we can fail to learn essential things.
Of course, not all feedback is to be believed. Sometimes we will have people criticize us unfairly and say false and unhelpful things. Some will attack us for doing good, and we have to be careful not to let this deter us. Our Scriptures today talk about Jeremiah and Jesus facing opposition for what they are doing. It is a great frustration to be trying to do good, and getting attacked for it, often by the very people you are trying to help. Jesus warns extensively about persecution in Matthew 10:16-36, Luke 12:2-9; 49-53 and, John 15:18-16:4 In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20), Jesus talks about when the seed falls on rocky ground and springs up quickly but has no root. When some “tribulation or persecution” happens, the seedling falls away.
The bottom line is that if we seek to follow Christ and serve the kingdom, we will face resistance. This resistance can come from any direction (inside or outside of Church), from those who are confused and from those who are malicious (though I’ve found it is not always easy to tell). It might be active or passive (some people won’t cooperate in the slightest). It might be mental or physical. It might be overt or subtle. It might be an individual, an organization, or a culture. You get the point. We will often feel that we are being treated unfairly. The bad news is we can count on being treated unfairly. It might be frustrating. It might be infuriating. It might be discouraging. It might be overwhelming.
This is an opportunity to deepen our faith, to set down deeper roots. If we are deeply enough rooted in Jesus, there is no storm that can uproot us. We can practice with smaller things. When the practice of our faith, or dealing with the Church, dealing with fellow parishioners, and, yes, dealing with the pastor gets frustrating, difficult, infuriating, or aggravating (yes, I know sometimes I can be all those things), that is part of the challenge of being Church.
Last week I tested positive for Covid. I went into quarantine (as of this writing I’m not quite finished). Our intrepid staff strove mightily to find a substitute for the weekend Masses, but none was to be had (a situation we shall see more of). We are so accustomed to regular schedules and convenient services it can be a shock how fragile the system is becoming. The storm has begun, and the boat is going to rock. Part of the solution will involve resilient Christians, who are ready to adapt to following Jesus while the boat is rocking. He is in the boat. It might feel like He is asleep, but if we stay with Him, He won’t let us sink.
Blessings,
Fr. Jim

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