Not so Great Expectations
Why we can't expect Christ like behavior from those who don't follow Christ
“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;”
Some time back, a friend asked me how to respond to one of her family members who was Anti- Catholic. No argument she was making for the church was working and her frustration level was growing. I gave her an answer that I know she didn’t like very much, just love him. I explained to her that he could not hear her because he did not know the one from whom the words came.
These words that the Holy Spirit gave me back then for her came back to me in the confessional this week. I was desperately trying to understand why a family member of mine was not talking to me. She too is not a believer. I told Father that I had tried to reconcile many times over the last year, sending gifts, cards, and messages. I confessed that I was angry over the situation and expected Father to give me a sharp rebuke or some complicated theological answer. Neither was the case. He simply said, “You’ve done everything in your power to reconcile. She must come to you.”
These were the same words I gave my friend back then, just in a different form. With my friend, it was her frustration with words that she just could not get through. For me, it was my frustration with taking Christ-like actions with an undesired result. I sat with Father’s words for a while pondering them in my heart. It wasn’t until this morning’s gospel that I understood them.
Why would I expect my family member who is not a Catholic, not even a believer in Christ, to accept my Christ-like actions? She does not love Him, or follow Him or know Him. The expectation is not on her, it is on me- to follow Jesus, His words, teachings, and actions without placing that expectation on someone else.
My sorrow was still present this morning, but my heart was filled with a new sense of understanding. I thought of Father, and then my godmother’s words, it’s only your job to clean up your side of the street. That’s when the hurt dissipated. When I gently leaned in and removed the expectation off her shoulders.