November 29, 2016

No Good Deed...

I recall it being a big surprise when at our workplace there was a big effort towards forcing employee engagement scores up via a lot of torturous activities and meetings. I thought: this is simple, we got this. Just give all perfect scores on engagement and we'll be free of the nonsense. Only that didn't completely turn out that way, at least verbally. (In practice, since our engagement scores soared, we haven't been punished as much.) But verbally we were told that high scores would not obviate the need for constant attention to engagement. There was always room to improve.

I thought of that while reading Pope Benedict remark that a Pope must not always be applauded or there is something amiss. He must be martyred, if not physically then in reputation or whatnot. The world, by definition, can't be in sync with the Pope much as we employees can't, by definition, be fully engaged.

The Bible teaches that goodness is always persecuted, so the adage "no good deed goes unpunished" seems biblical enough, and for Central Ohio to take in so many Somali refugees (second only to Minneapolis area), we were due to get hit.  And so we did, at the OSU campus.

Feels miraculous he didn't kill anybody. It sure hits close enough to home. Last year the guy was a student at Columbus State, which is in a downtown neighborhood I walk through at least twice a week at lunchtime on my way to St. Pat's.

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One of the more puzzling anecdotes about the life of Christ was where Jesus was found in the temple by Mary and Joseph after three days. And yet one could see the teaching potential and the greater good in it. Mary feels anxiety and distress and finally finds Him and is reassured. Could that not be a lesson for her to trust God, a trust she would need exponentially multiplied during the Crucifixion? And perhaps she exhibited and telegraphed that trust in Him as he was going along the way of the Cross, and perhaps that was the difference-maker for him as far as avoiding the temptation of giving in to despair or the exhaustion, fully human as He was and subject to the same temptations we are.

A recent reading from Revelation (ironically meaning "unveiling") serves to remind me we're not owed the immediate gratification of "seeing" God or understanding everything:
The direct vision of God is the great hope of biblical spirituality (Ps 11:7; 42:2) and the preeminent blessing of heaven (Mt 5:8; 1 Cor 13:12). Seeing the face of God points to a profound personal intimacy with him; it is an experience of knowing God that is the fulfillment of human existence. Tradition calls this the Beatific Vision (CCC 1023–28).
As a kid, I thought that God should condescend to us to the point of appearing to each of us personally, via a mystical experience, and thus show proof of His existence. There's definitely a sense of entitlement in that, but also an ignorance that it may not even be in our best interests to have a personal experience of God like St. Paul, given that the cost is awfully high. More is expected when you receive those sorts of visions, and Paul was expected to give his life, his reputation, and health, to the point where he "gloried" in the cross of Christ.

God's wouldn't ask of us faith unless it was good for us, but I guess that takes faith.  That's one of the pure beauties of the Catholic Church for me: the Church teaches that faith is a gift given to us in Baptism whether we are conscious of it or not, while for most Protestant denominations faith is an emotion at best, or something you've developed on your own at worst. Unless faith comes to us in an unconscious manner, it doesn't feel as much a gift, and it doesn't come to us more unconsciously than it does with infant Baptism.

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