Just Like Me

I have very little patience with assholes.

Building a Bridge cover.jpg

Fr. James Martin, SJ has been attacked for his most recent book, Building a Bridge. These attacks go way beyond criticism; they are, in the words of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, "a destructive counter-witness to the Gospel.”

I thought about these attacks on Jim Martin as I reflected on yesterday's Gospel. Jesus ate supper with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees complained. "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (Mt 9:11) I imagined if the Pharisees had access to Twitter, they would have sounded a lot like Internet trolls.

As I meditated on this passage, I thought to myself how much someone like Austin Ruse sounded like a Pharisee. In calling for a respectful and compassionate engagement between the Church and the LGBT community, my sense was that Jim Martin is simply doing what Jesus did in having a meal with tax collectors and sinners. I also got the sense that Mr. Ruse would have called Jesus a pansy too.

"How dare he call himself 'Christian,'" I lamented. "How dare he think he can break bread with Jesus at the table of the altar."

Then I realized: I was the one who sounded like a Pharisee.

In many ways, I'm a lot like Mr. Ruse. He thinks he is a victim. I think I am a victim. He thinks he is absolutely right. I think I am absolutely right. He engages in ad hominem attacks, I do too. He loves the Church. So do I.

When I realized that we weren't that different, I discovered empathy. In discovering empathy, I also discovered patience. And in discovering patience, I was able to surrender my anger and be free to show love, mercy, and compassion toward others.

Take a moment and become still and calm. Relax your body. Let your shoulders drop toward the floor. Open your palms. Take slow, deep breaths. Recognize the source of love within you and allow it to fill you up until you are overflowing.

Think of a person who causes you anger, anxiety, or distress. Bring to many mind as many details about this person as possible.

How does this person cause you distress? Think of they ways you do the same things and say, Just like me.

For example, if this person causes you distress because he or she is rude, think of how you can be rude and say, "Just like me." Is this person arrogant or self-righteous? Think of how you are arrogant and self-righteous, and say "Just like me." 

As you continue to say, "Just like me," take note of your feelings toward this person. How do they change? How do you see this person in a different light? Are you more willing to accept this person as they are? Acceptance does not mean approval. Rather, acceptance means that you see this person as someone who is struggling and suffering, just as you struggle and suffer. How might you show this person compassion?

Close with this prayer or one of your own: Lord, help me love my enemies as myself, for they are struggling and suffering, just like me. They need your compassion, Lord, just like me. Amen.