First Reading COL 3:12-17
Responsorial Psalm PS 150:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6
Gospel LK 6:27-38
As I read through the readings for today, I think about who I was five years ago-- and who I am today. Five years ago, I was grossly unhappy, had a limited relationship with God, and engaged in most of the vices that the profane seek out. I had spent the previous 8 years as a law enforcement officer and a soldier, which built up a lot of hate in my heart. I was varying degrees of awareness of how much resentment, jealousy, and anger was burdening my soul. Due to some lucky circumstances, I was given the opportunity to hit the reset button on my life.
I left California and returned to Texas with very little idea what to do next. When I got to Texas, I made one critical decision that has shaped how truly wonderful my life is today: I went to church. I didn't just go to Mass, I invested. I went to the young adults’ Bible study at the parish, I went to the Young Catholic Professionals at the Diocese, and I went the speakers series Theology on Tap. When I made this investment, I met many wonderful people who changed and challenged my perspective on life.
I had spent so many years in the past valuing self-reliance and grit above all else. I thought to be able to walk a 6-hour foot patrol in the Iraqi summer, with all that body armor and equipment, was the pinnacle of manhood. I valued the rough men who I served with-- tough cops, soldiers, skilled fighters and hard drinkers. I was proud to be a part of that community and aspired to little more. That was, I believe, the underlying reason I was so angry and unhappy. A life absent of Christ can have no peace. Our first reading today gave me a new armor to wear... "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
The folks I had met in the Catholic Community when I moved back to Texas began to share thoughts and scripture to show me that my values were fickle and self-centered. They taught me that strength, brilliance, and wealth will not lead a person to peace and happiness; only Christ can do that. They began to teach me that a meek person who has a true love for God in his heart is likely much happier than I could ever be. "And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful." They showed me that the pursuit of a better relationship with the Father will lead to the peaceful life I wanted.
Wouldn’t you know, it worked. In August of 2014, I showed up to my first bible study angry, lonely, and prone to my vices. Today, 5 years later, I have a fabulous wife (yes, she was the one who most pointedly challenged the flaws in my previous thinking). I laugh when reading the Gospel according to Luke, "But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."My wife and I have one son and another on the way, I have a fantastic job that is a lot of fun, I have a great Parish Community, and lastly, I have peace. I know that this truly wonderful life would not be possible had I not started to pursue Christ’s teachings and values and turn away from my misguided beliefs.