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.