Posted on Oct 29, 2019

27 October 2019

One of my best friends has always lived a very simple life.

She died this past summer.

She didn’t always have an easy life.

She single-handedly raised her daughter after her daughter’s father deserted her.

She had to start from scratch at age 40 raising a child and finding a job.

I remember visiting her once as she lived in a roach infested apartment.

I wondered how she could live there, I wondered why she wasn’t angry and bitter.

I asked her to let me find her daughter’s father and shake a little money out of him.

I remember she looked at me very seriously.  “No, George,” she said.

“That wouldn’t be right. If he wanted to, he could contribute something.

If he doesn’t, it wouldn’t be right to take his money.”

“But he has a responsibility to you and your child,” I said.

“Responsibility doesn’t have to come wrapped in love,” I said.

“You’re right,” she said, “it doesn’t.  But he’s had such a hard life.”

“He’s had a hard life?” I said increduously.

“What about you and your daughter?  What kind of life will you two have?”

“We’ll be okay,” she said.  “You know I have faith.”

“He might not be okay, he’s always had so much and still always felt so let down by God. 

That’s the way it is with people who have so much,

they think God lets them down so much.”

You know I’ve always remembered that interchange.

I’ve reflected on it often, particularly when I am angry at God or believe that God has let me down.

Why?  Because I’ve got it pretty good.

I see enough people who have it hard and I never hear as much complaining about God or the Church from poor people as I do from those of us who have it pretty good.

The Pharisee and the tax collector in the gospel–

which one do you suppose would be the most angry, the most bitter with God,

who could feel the most “let down?”

The Pharisee I think.

He doesn’t get it, I think.

He doesn’t get who he is in relationship to God,

and as the Lucan author stressed a few weeks ago,

doesn’t have the good sense to be really grateful, only relatively grateful.

Where are we? I think of my friend often when I believe I have been let down by God and the Church,

and I wonder, how much do I really take for granted?