October 04, 2009

Patience and Spiritual Immaturity

In today's Gospel reading (Mk 10:2-16 or 10:2-12), on one level we see Jesus clarifying the Old Testament teaching on divorce. This teaching alone - the sanctity and permanence of the marriage bond between a man and woman - is very important, but there is still more we can take from the passage.

Jesus explains that Moses allowed divorce to continue (Deut 24) because his people had "hardened hearts". They wouldn't accept full weight of the purpose and meaning of marriage (Gn 2:18-24). They weren't spiritually mature enough to handle it, perhaps, so Moses was more permissive with them.

We apply this idea to the physical world all the time. They get small basketballs and Little Tykes hoops only two feet off the ground, because they aren't ready to reach daddy's net. They play with fake phones to distract them from making toll calls around the world on the real one. They use make-believe irons and stoves so their still-growing hands aren't burned.

Do we apply it, too, to the spiritual world? Too often, I find myself frustrated and hurt by the fractures in the Christian Church and in the attacks from nonbelievers outside. I think and act as if everyone else should just "get it", that no one should have the spiritual doubts and struggles that I've had - and still have. We are often understanding of our own, personal need to grow but hard on others. Instead, we should be tough on ourselves - looking to our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) - but forgiving and understanding of others' weaknesses and immaturity.

We are all God's children. What happens when the family is called to the table? Some children pout and stay locked in our rooms. Others get carried to a booster seat. And others are grown enough to walk there on their own.

Today, resolve to be patient with someone who isn't in the same place spiritually. We all make different marks on the spiritual growth chart, but as long as we grow and seek Truth, we are promised to find it. (Mt 7:7)
“Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” - St. Teresa of Avila

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