Sunday, 31 August 2008

Light and Dark

Some people are just holy. You meet them or see them on TV or the Internet and get a sense that they "glow in the dark." Mother Angelica, Fr Benedict Groeschel and Fr John Corapi spring to mind. But I have also met people in every day life who seem to have that genuine holiness about them. There's a Filipino lady who attends Mass at our church. She's small and unnoticeable in many ways-but I get the impression she really glows. Don't know why.
Then there are the quietly holy people. They don't give off as much light but there is a definite flame there and it stays lit sometimes in the most difficult circumstances.
I think these two sets of people are like the the two men in Jesus' parable with five talents and two talents.
Then there's the man given one talent. It doesn't seem fair at first, but he goes and hides it rather than use it properly-so maybe the Master had some idea he was faithless in some way. Then with the talent safely buried they can accuse God of being unjust as the faithless servant did in the parable-and so they feel free to behave as they like.
In fairy stories and the deeper stories of Tolkien good and evil are fairly straight forward and easy to discern. There is no mistaking the difference between elves and orcs; between the innocence of the princess and the wickedness of the witch. Their outward appearance often tells you whose side they are on.
Is it the same in reality? We are warned that the devil can appear as an angel of light-but there are always 'signs'-warnings that he ain't what he appears. Is it the same for people? Do they have signs that warn you even when they appear as 'angels of light'?
To be honest I think they do. They might not immediately appear to be orcs dressed as elves-but there are always little give aways to which we need to be alert. This is the battle ground after all and we are supposed to be soldiers in the Church Militant. Praying for discernment is a huge help because it seems to be one of those prayers God always answers with a 'yes' and a HUGE dollop of the appropriate grace.
A difficulty in the battle against evil can be our own fears of seeming uncharitable. It can seem wrong to think badly of others-especially when there is nothing concrete to pin the bad feelings on.
I've learned the real hard way that over riding discernment-those little red flags that warn of danger is a very bad idea.
But even then God comes to the rescue. He sends in some unlikely heroes to the rescue. I have been grateful for those two talent heroes on more than one occasion. They appear and speak at just the right time and say what needs to be said.
Sometimes the really holy ones can be the ones who are too charitable to speak up and give due warning. I can't begin to tell you how utterly painful it is to hear people admit AFTER you have been put through hell by some family or person; after a huge amount of damage has been done, that they KNEW they were bad news and that your kids were in danger but didn't think they should say anything.
People SPEAK UP!
I have a lot of time for those two talent people. I think Tolkien understood this too. It was hobbits that defeated Sauron in the end rather than the bright and shiny elves.


Adrienne said...

All too often people don't speak up because the "hearer" doesn't want to hear. Sometimes we just have to hang around and wait to help pick up the pieces. Sigh!

Ponte Sisto said...

You have an award.