Monday, November 12, 2007

Mediocrity

It seems to me that there is a standard of mediocrity with which we are all compelled to comply and from which we dare not extricate ourselves such that we might rise above this level to that of excellence. What do I mean?

I mean that in the Church we all strive to be good people, but few really want to exceed that to become saints. We live only as moral as the general Christian populace expects. We give only enough to appease our consciences. We do only that which is required. Stop and think about it- in what way do Christians differ radically from the conservative element among those in the world? You're hard pressed to come up with anything. With shame we must confess that we lie, cheat, steal, and commit adultery on a level not much better than good, upstanding conservatives who claim no strong religious faith.

Let us pause for a moment and consider two things. First, it is only in the realm of religion that we feel compelled to such a standard. In business, sports, art, and education we expect excellence. We do not see a double standard here, but I hope it is obvious by now, if it wasn't before, that there is one- a big one!

Second, let us remember that such a standard makes no converts. Who is inspired by that? Who is willing to lay down his life for mediocrity? Furthermore, no one is memorialized; no one becomes a saint by adopting such a standard.

Now lest we all contribute to the problem and look down our self-righteous noses at the rest of the world, let us begin at home- with us! I'll start. you join in wherever you find yourself.

Do I love God? Yes! How do I show that? Well, by attending public worship, engaging in private prayer, and working to serve the poor, the least of Jesus' brothers. At a bare minimum this is what it means. Yet, how am I doing? Well, I go to church about as often, if not more so than most. For me that is at least weekly, and usually about a couple more times during the week. Then there's prayer. Prayer cannot be measured by time or verbage. It is more a matter of passion, fire, fervency, and perseverence. The early saints lived in prayer. I cannot say the same. They meditated on the Scripture. I merely do my daily reading. Their hearts were in heaven even while their bodies remained on earth. My heart is clearly embedded in earth with my body. As for the poor, well, I give alms once in a while. This in great contrast to a saint of our own times, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who worked tirelessly in the mire ministering to the outcasts of India.

I could go on. When I look at my life, it's not bad. But it isn't great either. It's just mediocre. So I am welcomed by my present generation because I present no scandal and I arouse no ire. Yet, the words of our Lord ring in my ears, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets," (Luke 6:22-23,26).

God deliver me from mediocrity to the excellence of the image of Christ! God deliver us all- quickly!

1 comment:

Joni said...

To quote St. John's gospel: "Therefore, many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can understand it?' " (6:60). And because His teachings were so hard to grasp, deal with, and live out, later, many left Him (see v. 66).

What you have written is truly a "hard saying". But truly, too, we as the Church need to listen and take it to heart...and continue to follow.