My Way or God's Way?

(February 12, 2020)

Bottom line: To recognize God's wisdom means to let go of the Ego-Drama, trying to always do things "my way". Instead to discover God's way - the Theo-Drama.".

As a lead-up to Lent we are focusing on the Bishop Barron's The Strangest Way - and the three paths that that constitute the Christian way:

finding the center, knowing you are a sinner and realizing your life is not about you.

Last week we talked about that third path - realizing your life is not about you - what it means to move from the Ego-Drama to the Theo-Drama. The Ego-Drama is when I see life as story about me. I'm the writer, director and leading character. Frank Sinatra sums up the Ego-Drama in his song, I did it my way. People use it for funerals but it's kind of dreary, talking about the parties and trips he's had while the audience is thinking, who cares? ho hum. It does end with proud and defiant words.

For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught To say the things he truly feels And not the words of one who kneels The record shows I took the blows And did it my way.

This evokes the image of a brave soldier, but in this case the soldier is running from his duty. The words are defensive and self-serving. It's about a man wrapped up in himself with no desire to take into account anyone else - even God. At the end of his life, Frank Sinatra admitted he hated the song, especially when it became associated with Slobodan Milosevic. While he was in prison for war crimes against Bosnian Moslems, the Serbian dictator played the song over and over. Milosevic certainly did things "my way". So did Hitler. So did Stalin. They lived the Ego-Drama (life is a story about me).

This weekend we have someone who lived the Theo-Drama (life is a story about God). In fact this Sunday is his 214th birthday - Abraham Lincoln. As a youth he wasn't much of a believer, but things changed when he confronted our nation's greatest crisis - the Civil War. He began attending church and developed a close relationship with the pastor, Reverend Phineas Gurley. Before great battles, Lincoln would sometimes invite Pastor Gurley to the White House - not for military or political advice, but the two would kneel in prayer, asking for God's will. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln grapples with God's will in face of horrible suffering:

"The Almighty has His own purposes...Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away." Then Lincoln gets to his point:

"Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

At a White House reception, President Lincoln encountered Frederick Douglass. "I saw you in the crowd today, listening to my inaugural address. How did you like it?"

"Mr. Lincoln," Douglass answered, "that was a sacred effort." Lincoln said he valued Douglass' opinion more than anyone else. Douglass had escaped slavery as young man and lived in fear of being captured and taken back into slavery. Abraham Lincoln - and Frederick Douglas - understood themselves as part of the Theo-Drama.

You and I have not had to suffer anything as terrible as the Civil War - or anything as terrible as slavery. But each of us has had a share of suffering. Like Lincoln are we able to say "as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"?

Today St Paul gives us these powerful words:

We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory...

To recognize God's wisdom means to let go of the Ego-Drama, trying to always do things "my way". Instead to discover God's way - the Theo-Drama. Next Sunday, the final Sunday before Lent, St Paul tells us we belong to Christ and Jesus says to love, even our enemies.

For today I conclude with the final sentence of Lincoln's inaugural address. Frederick Douglass loved to quote it. I'll let you make your own application:

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

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From Archives (Fifth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2017: Hidden Wisdom Week 2- Salt and Light
2014: Where Your Synthesis is
2011: Kalos
2005: Less Noise, More Light
2002: When Salt Loses Its Taste
1999: A Sure Thing
1998: Do Not Grumble, My Brothers

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Kurt Nagel (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

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