December 26, 2015
He has tried to call me a few times, but I just don't have the courage to answer. He’s my father, he left when I was 5, and came back into my life last summer through a friend-request on facebook, which led to a long and draining chat session full of question that may never be answered… let’s say I wasted my time and maybe a little bit of his.
At the end of the day what does it matter? The past is nothing but an absurd relic we are attached to. If you think about it, a man has nothing important to hold on to but his own past. Our past could be the only thing that really belongs to us, thus keeping up with it provides some confidence, it makes us something, it gives us the power to excuse what we do or how we feel. We existed at some point, some minutes more than others, thus a past assures us that we existed, so that if one day someone asks us for the reasons to why we deny any obvious truths, we can always say with confidence “I have a past, that's why I am the way I am” “I have been through a lot, don't judge me” or my all time favorite: “You know my name not my story”.
God on the other side gives us the authority to be who we want to be in him regardless of our past, in fact he embraces this past and uses it for his own glory. I can say I have chosen to be a Christian, a practicing Catholic to be more specific. One day I found my identity in Christ and I decided to keep it because it makes me happy.
But then, I think of the things I write and on the times Holy Spirit has given me the inspiration to touch someone’s heart and get a “thank you” note in my inbox.
My brothers and sisters, if I never pick up and answer my father’s call, what authority do I have to even preach the gospel? Can I walk around proclaiming a million Christian mottos about forgiveness and love? Can I boast on my love for Christ if I am not able to even pick up the phone and listen to father’s voice?
I heard once that “Only those who have been forgiven can forgive” not to mention the part of the Our Father which says “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. How can I expect mercy, if I not merciful to others? Why is this so hard to do?
If I wanted my answers based on a watered down faith, I can say I was a victim, it wasn't my fault, and I have the right to ignore my father for life. He wasn't around for about 20 years, I don't even know how his voice sounds like and he says he didnt contact me before because there was no facebook back in the days (I found this to be funny...).
What he did was very messed up...I don't denythe reality of it, and my feelings are valid, but my actions can define where Im standing now. Sometimes our pasts can becomewhite elephants, our pasts can become like useless buildings that once occupied huge amounts of groundin our hearts, they served a purpose, they made us stronger but there's no more use for them, they are in the way of many things, they distract, they annoy, and it costs a lot to maintain them.
If I go for a less metaphorical answer, In the book of Exodus it says “Honor your father and your mother” as one of the ten commandments, there is no disclaimer saying “If one of them takes off or does you wrong never mind the 5th one”.
Following the truth is such a radical way of life, is not a cafeteria where I choose only what I like based on how I feel, there is no middle ground, hot or cold, we either do it or we don't. In fact, Jesus came to this world to make sure we understand God’s commandments through his love: “Do unto others as you would want them do unto you”, and we must live by this, it might break us sometimes in situations where our humanity gets in the way, and God understands this and he is patient, but we just need to be willing andcommitted to love EVERYBODY no matter what. The procces of this love is such a painful choice at times, but even if we have to go against our own selves, may his will be done with passion, Jesus our savior is our greatest example.
Therefore I have more reasons than excuses not to forgive, and I guess we all do sometimes, and it's ok as long as our willingness to proclaim the gospel is so big that we start with our own lives and ask our Lord and Mary most blessed to give us the courage to anwers the call of mercy.
I want to forgive because I also want to be forgiven each time I mess up, because I am a man full of struggles, weaknesses and mistakes, because I have taken off from responsibilities a million times, because I have abandoned Christ on the cross and walked away to pursue sin. I am no better than my father, when I have done the same to the almighty one countless times.
This Christmas season as we are reminded of God’s merciful response by sending his own son, I pray that the Lord may give us the strength to choose forgiveness all the time, maybe my father would never say he’s sorry as I expect, or whoever hurt you or offended you may never admit it, what does it matter anyway,? Forgiveness is not about us, we think it is... but it’s not, it is about God, it should be about God because he is the fount of mercy, which is God’s love in action, the same love which enables our ordinary actions to be extraordinary. When we exercise forgiveness, we are not doing by ourselves, such gift is too perfect for us to carry along that we need him to forgive us countless times to get the point of it so that we can tell the world MERCY is real and pass it on in his name...it is really not about us.
I can't say I am already there, in the place of the "perfect" Christian who forgives by the miniute, because even though it sounds easy to attain, in real life forgiveness takes time just like any wound takes its time to be healed. I have to live it and rejoice with it, it is part of my human and Christian experience, this is how bad I need Jesus.
I can't play God, I can just show my father how much God loves him regardless of his own past and decisions, and let God show me his mercy as I am trying to forgive my father and aswer his calls.
Maybe you have been hurt just like I was, I guess we all have....by a family member, a situation, a relationship, even by yourself. So this Christmas season I wish you peace, the type of peace a heart can only feel when God has taken the place of every single “white elephant” you once built with your past. Destroy those white elephants and build new things on that empty space you’d end up with, build beautiful things, everlasting things, joyful things.
PEACE BE WITH US!! In the name of Christ, and through the intercession of our Lady,
St Stephen, pray for us