Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
“I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” – Matthew 5:17-18
I surveyed the damage as I waited for the police to arrive. The shock had yet to subside and I stood there shaking in the rain. The kids and I had been involved in a hit and run accident. Another vehicle made a left turn into us while we were headed straight and then fled the scene. I didn’t even register how wet I was getting until the police arrived and encouraged me to sit in the car while they took down the report.
I carefully made my way the remaining few blocks home, convinced the car was going to fall apart en route. When I opened the front door I was greeted by a puddle in the middle of the kitchen. Apparently there was a leak somewhere. The irony is that we have been faced with historic drought levels in California… and now that rain has arrived we have flooding, levees breaking, and pesky leaks in the ceilings. When it rains, it pours.
The stress and shock of the day was pouring down. Our day got side-swiped and all we could do was pick up the pieces. Jason got home and dealt with the leak while my sister entertained the kids. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and pretend like the whole day had never happened. Instead I filed the claim with the insurance, researched repair shops, and took small steps forward.
In my flashbacks, I keep seeing the other car backing up and speeding off. They had no intention of waiting, or of seeing that we were okay. There was no regard for the law or human kindness. It is easy for me to feed that anger and resentment… and to focus on all the wrongs. The hours on the phone dealing with insurance, car rentals, and a thousand other details, feel like time that has been stolen from me, and my family. And my resentment builds further.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 17:19
Today’s Gospel has challenged me to re-think my anger. While nothing excuses a failure to take responsibility for one’s mistakes, I cannot control the sins of another person. The only person whose response I can control is my own. Initially I just needed to be gentle with myself as I slowly emerged from under the covers. As the days have progressed, I know that I need to acknowledge the inconveniences without holding onto the pain.
How many other times in my life has this same lesson held true? When conflicts arise in our families, workplaces, and communities, it is always easier to see where the other person is at fault rather than owning our own piece of the pain. We allow the hurt to pour down in unrelenting torrents. Sometimes we have truly been wronged, and yet still God calls us to greater love.
As we draw closer to Holy Week, the radical unfairness against Jesus becomes even more pronounced. Am I protesting the crucifixion with the same vehemence with which I defend myself?