Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why Do I Make Excuses?

I was thinking about the witnesses to Jesus Christ’s Ascension into heaven.  I think that must have been the ultimate proof for them, that He was God.  I mean, they saw something “impossible” with their own eyes!  I’ve read and heard it said that His rising from the dead was the ultimate proof for those who saw His raised body, but I think not, at least for some of them.
Some of them, even after seeing and talking to Him after the Crucifixion might have skeptically thought (as perhaps I would have?):  “No, that’s not Him.  He died.  This is just a great imitator who looks a lot like Him, but no, it can’t be Him.”  Or perhaps some thought: “I wasn’t there when He died on the cross; people only said that He did, but that must have been a trick they agreed to do:  fake His death.  That’s why I see Him now.”  Or perhaps even some thought: “Someone else died in His place; that’s where the switch took place.  It was all a planned ruse to make it appear He died and rose from the dead.  What a great idea to spread His religion!”
Many people probably made excuses for His rising from the dead, because they KNEW that couldn’t happen.
In thinking about the Ascension, however, what excuse was there, when they saw with their own eyes “what couldn’t happen?”  There was no excuse.  “Seeing is believing.”  They had to believe, but even that wasn’t enough to send them out evangelizing, as they probably thought: “Who’s going to believe what I saw?”  It took Pentecost to give them the courage to say what they knew, with no excuses.
I mused further on other excuses, those made by the people who saw his preaching and miracles, and even perhaps saw Him alive after He had died.  It’s almost like they HAD TO force themselves to make up excuses to explain away that which seemed obvious to others.  And I found myself asking: Why?  Why couldn’t they accept His divinity, when (to me) it seemed so obvious?
Let’s change the subject for a moment.  A mother asks her toddler son a question: “Whose muddy handprint is that on the wall?”  And he responds:  “I don’t know” --- (we can see that we began making excuses at an early age).  The toddler may have been thinking: “If I say I did it, I will be punished, so I must protect myself by lying.”  But it may also be that he doesn’t see his response as a lie, because that “couldn’t be” --- like Jesus being God “couldn’t be.”  Perhaps the toddler’s thinking went like this: “Making muddy handprints is wrong.  I don’t do wrong things; mommy says that is bad.  I am not bad, and therefore I couldn’t have made that handprint; that couldn’t be --- at least not deliberately.”  Either type of thinking results in the boy creating an excuse to excuse an action that DID happen: he saw it because he did it, yet he excuses his action.  Throughout our lives, we wrestle with telling a lie, like the first toddler excuse, or reasoning away our faults, like his second excuse. 
No man willingly admits that he has faults, or that his thinking is faulty, or that he sins.  All men think they are good, and do good things.  I enjoy the television show Criminal Minds, for it gets into the thinking of even the most evil of men, and we see how they make excuses to themselves that their evils are really a good thing --- and they can’t understand why others don’t see it that way also.
We can’t “see” the good or bad of our actions, as some literally saw the Ascension, a proof beyond any doubt.  And so we make excuses, to justify our sins, sins we don’t believe ARE sins, because logically --- in our minds --- that CAN’T BE SO.  We do things but, like the little boy, we think: “We don’t do bad things.”
I mentioned that I pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of Wisdom.  They say it’s the wise man who knows he is not wise.  That’s the Wisdom I pray for, to be able to know that I am not wise, and to be able to see true Wisdom and Truth, and be able to stop making the excuses when I see the Truth, but want to say: “But that can’t be.”  I want to trust God’s truth, even when it is hard to trust.
Lord, grant me the grace to see Your love and truth in every human being I meet, and to love them without excuses.  And, I pray, that You would also grant me a special grace:  to be able to see the truth of myself as You do --- with no excuses for my actions.  Let me see the truth of them, what I do and who I am, that I may have a firm basis on which to improve, to become more like You.


  1. I really like this post. It reminded me of something that happened to me once with a coworker, a long time ago now, maybe 20 years. I didn't know the young woman long, and I was young myself (relatively speaking.) She was very pretty with a very, very good figure. She was married and had two small children. In conversation, while working together, it came out she and her sister (who worked at the same company, but in a different department) had gone out to lunch to meet up with a "man" she was flirting with; mostly, I think, for the sport of it, and for a boost to her ego. I'm not sure. Anyway, when she saw my expression when she told me (which must have been a little shocked) she said, "What? I'm good!" I'll never forget those words. And I said right back, "Compared with whom? Hitler? Or Mother Teresa?"
    I'm pretty sure nothing ever really happened, and it was none of my business anyway, but I was surprised by her lack of guilt or shame over what she was doing. It astounded me. And you bring up the same point. We all think we are good. I think it's really a hard journey to realize, of my own and by myself, that the stuff that I do of my own impetus for action is not good at all.
    It's funny you should write on this, because sometimes when I want to go to confession, I can only think of one or two venial sins. Then I think, "Oh, com'on! You are certainly no saint! What are you in denial about?" I prayed to the Holy Spirit to help me see my hidden sins, and oh boy, I sure got a comeuppance! So I guess we need our own Pentecost all the time, just to see the truth!
    Thanks for sharing your reflections.
    God bless. ~ Fran

    1. I think the key question is "why;" why do we do something?

      A dad talks to his sons. He may be dictating to them; do as I say, or else. He wants his home life to be convenient for himself. Another dad teaches his sons how to act; he wants to form his sons in his image, the perfect man he sees himself to be. A third dad teaches his sons how to be good people, to be who they were uniquely meant to be AND how to be a member of their family, loving one another, as he loves them. He wants his sons to grow up to be good dads and Christians. The first dad is narcissistic, period. The second is the worst narcissist, one who want to project his power onto as many people as he can, through others. The third dad wants everyone to be who they were made to be, for the betterment of the family, the Church, the world. His behavior is not about himself at all.

      The question to be asked on seeing the father talk to his son: why?

      The answer tells what type of a man the father is, and what type of man the son will become.