According to St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” The Apostle to the Gentile guarantees that the standards of what the world considers successful will conflict with the path of Christ. Laughter and ridicule occurred on Good Friday after the Death of Jesus Christ. If the tale stopped there, then everything Paul preached and the saints throughout Christian history would be in vain—a sad farce. Dreariness and hopelessness would dominate without the victory of the Resurrection!
I encountered a foreshadowing of that pessimistic and dismal way of living earlier this week. Continual confusion, and daily, sometimes hourly, changes, along with negative remarks from co-workers throughout the week barraged me. In my weakness, I only saw the limited perspective of suffering. Willing myself to be more positive did not alleviate the negativity surrounding me. A lot of the time people use sarcasm as a method to make light of a stressful situation. By the amount of usage of sarcasm and crass jokes at work it gives off the perception that everything is stressful. Do not get me wrong there are appropriate times to make a sarcastic comment, but I am of the belief those should be used sparingly. Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once declared, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Now whether he intended to have the last part of the quote to be taken is a question for another day, but all things in excess lead to bad ends.
Why exactly am I talking about workplace doldrums and complaints? How does this tie back into what the Gospel message preached by St. Paul? While I am an avid ichthyologist aficionado this actually is not a red herring [as much as I love talking about this mythical creature!], in all seriousness, as a Christian, I am called to exist in the world without succumbing to the temptations and powers of the world. The evidence put forth by my co-workers shows proof of a fallen and imperfect stated of humanity. Certainly true, as Christ, Paul and the rest of the saints would agree with this point. Where the truth of Good News diverges from the Gospel of the World is that hope is possible. Compelling as the world’s claim that reality is ultimately hopeless is I put forth two specific proofs against this evidence of the world.
- Sacrament of Marriage: The definition of the word sacrament is a visible sign of the invisible grace of God. Regarding the sacred bond between man and woman in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the love of God becomes visibly present in the exchange of sacrifices between the spouses. Yesterday, my wife called me before work and provided me encouragement that sustained me throughout the day. My wife declared, “I just wanted to thank you for the sacrifices that you make to provide for our family!” In a tangible way, the grace of God entered into my day through the person of my spouse. We have been through ups and downs over the course of our 8 years of marriage. Without the sacramental graces provided by the Most Holy Trinity we would struggle mightily.
Sacramental marriages point to the Cross of Jesus Christ because each day husbands and wives are called to “die” to their selfish tendencies and put love for the other spouse first. In stark contrast, secular “marriages” lack this unifying bond of God’s grace. Too often, people focus on the individual instead of the unity of the family.
In addition to my own marriage, my parent’s sacramental marriage demonstrates even further proof that love prevails against the world’s claim of individualism. Divorce pervades the 21st century. Giving up when times get tough is an easy out. My parent’s lifelong commitment proves the importance of sacrificial love.
- Tame Your Tongue, Tame Your Temper: Silence speaks louder than words. I never truly understand the power of Jesus refraining from answering Pontius Pilate’s questions in John 19 until I had children. When we are young talk is attractive. We all desire to be heard. Kids, especially those with ADHD such as my son [and myself—yes I still consider myself a kid at heartJ] have a particularly difficult time remaining silent. What is even tougher than remaining silence with wanting to share exciting news is being taciturn during stressful situations. According to Boston college philosophy professor Peter Kreeft, “God is the tongue-tamer. You can’t do it without him. But he won’t do it without you” (Your Questions God’s Answers 39).
Anger leads to impatience. Impatience lead to unrest. And unrest leads to sins of the tongue—rude vocal outbursts in reactions to trying situations. This week I made a conscious effort to pause before anytime where my natural inclination would tend toward anger. In the pause, I prayed for the grace to remain silence. Although I am a lifelong Catholic and possess a “Masters” degree in theology [I mean really can one truly be a master of anything?! J], I am still a bit surprised at the ability to withhold negativity from leaving my mouth.
The way of the world tries to persuade you to run when the going gets tough. Increased divorce rates only show that people fail to see marriage as a lifelong friendship and gift for growing in holiness. Quick reactions whether it be in real life or social media are the norm for the 21st century man. Short term solutions or fleeing when times get tough certainly appear enticing, but from my experience and the witness of my parent’s marriage and wisdom of the Catholic Church proves otherwise.