From Our Pastor: 30th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Again, if you have not read the entirety of the book of Sirach please do! It is one of my favorite books of the bible. Sirach reminds us that we have a just and merciful God. You have heard me talk about this before, there must be justice before mercy can exist. Without justice, mercy becomes lawlessness. Our God is just, but is also merciful, but that is only to those who seek His mercy, and are open to it. God’s mercy is a free gift that we must be open to receive. He doesn’t force His mercy upon, as many reject God’s mercy quite often in their lives. We must be people disposed to His mercy and disposed to be merciful to one another.
People always seek forgiveness from the Church and Her priests, but they get offended by something done by one of the Church’s members or even by Her priests and that person will never forgive the Church and will never forgive that priest, and often use this as some weak excuse to leave the Church or do whatever they want in their lives then. People in the Church are human, and priests are human as well. Priests have emotions, they have bad days, they have immense stress, and people are awful to priests on a regular basis, and not just outsiders but insiders as well. If I spoke to some people the way they speak to me or other priests, you all would be outraged and angry and leaving and probably make it somehow “go viral.” This is not a pity party on my behalf nor am I seeking your sympathy, but since being here some have cussed me out, been absolutely hateful and mean, I’ve been screamed at and threatened. The way many treated Fr. Don over the past years was awful as well. This kind and gentle man received some of the worst vitriol from people, as other people have recounted to me. Sadly, this goes with the territory of being a priest, especially these days. Since the sex abuse crisis, people have little to no respect for priests as they used to. I am not saying we need to go back to priests can do no wrong, but we do need to check ourselves. This is the point of bringing all of this up. Again, this is not for sympathy, but a call for people to check themselves in how they treat priests, the staff of the parish, and most especially our teachers, our past principal, and our new principal. No one deserves the vitriol that is often given.
If you are upset, or even angry or outraged, please learn to have a conversation and not a mudslinging screaming match. I can have heated conversations with people and can take criticism, especially if it is constructive and most especially when it comes with good suggestions, but there is a difference between heated and lack of respect. We need to regain our respect and decorum in our society and most especially our parish and school. I will not tolerate poor treatment of any of my staff. Also know that sometimes there are things outside of my control and the other staff’s control. Sometimes there is more to the story and for the sake of people’s privacy or a difficult situation we can’t reveal everything you would like to know on a subject. Know that even if I don’t give in to a demand or act upon your request, doesn’t mean I haven’t heard you. Often times I am acting on it, but quietly and silently behind the scenes maybe not as you would like me to, but in the way that I think would be best, but also sometimes the answer must be no. And if the answer is no, it is not a personal attack on you or your child, as I nor my staff won’t do such things. Just treatment will always be demanded.
Just like it is with your children you want to give them everything but sometimes money precludes you, sometimes it’s not what is best for them, and sometimes it doesn’t look like what your children desire. I must do the same for my children, and just as your children get mad, so do mine, but just as you wouldn’t accept unruly behavior or responses from your children, neither should we accept that kind of behavior. I will do something or say something stupid at some point, if I haven’t already, I am human and I am sorry if I have or do. I will apologize gladly when I do, but please also please do not forget to be merciful and kind to those you seek mercy and kindness from. Not just me, but all deacons, priests, bishops, and church members.
Following the Lord in what he is calling us to do in our life of faith isn’t easy. He never promised it would be, but he did promise us that He would remain with us. Do not come to the Lord with your “righteous” as the Pharisee did in the gospel today, but instead come with a humble and contrite heart as the tax collector. Always remember the forgotten, the lonely, the neglected, the homebound, the widow, the orphan, the person who has no one, etc, as the Lord hears them, but He sends you to respond to their cries with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and most especially love.
-Rev. Steven Arisman