First Down (September 10, 2017)

Dear Friends,

Monday will be the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our country’s soil. For those of us who lived through these horrific events, this date will always be on our minds. The story told at the time was how this happened, who was responsible, how we could seek retaliation and how we needed to be on watch for certain people who could want to do more harm. There is no doubt that this fear, worry and stress was something new for many Americans. There was grief, sorrow and agony felt by many, and it needed to be processed.

Even though the attention was on the horrible events, there were countless stories of people doing many heroic things in caring for their neighbor. The City of New York, a place that at times can seem cold or too busy to be aware of one’s surroundings, revealed what was always there, people caring for each other. Risking lives, offering comfort and making sure that basic human needs were being met, were among many of the powerful acts of love that made our country take notice. There was a reminder that conflict and anger gets noticed and gets great ratings for those selling the news. What is lost during the normal days of our lives is that everyday people do so many loving things, more than all the evil acts on a given day.

Our country is reminded of this once again as we watch the people of South Texas suffer an unbelievable natural disaster. For a moment, the news turned to people saving others lives, using their boats to save others and bringing supplies to people who have lost everything. It is a reminder that “good works” are always at the heart of people everywhere.

I never really understand people who simply believe that people are not good, the world is a horrible place or that everything is falling apart. I can understand what is behind such statements because there is real suffering and suffering is being inflicted on others. Yet, fear and hopelessness comes when we close our eyes to the countless acts of mercy shown to many human beings, and it keeps us from seeing the kindness of everyday people, which can outshine the sinful acts that make the headlines.

I hear confessions of people for a living, and after three decades of listening to people bear their souls, I have seen more good from people who seek God for grace and courage. I hear their sins, and at times I see their sins, but I never forget to look for the good and believe me, it is there more often than we realize. I, too, can get discouraged when Christians who know better, do and believe in things that are not even close to Gospel living. Yet, I never cease to look for and see the good in every person. For me that is not a naive way to look at life, rather it takes a true disciple of Jesus to see that people are more than their sins.

The news says people are more divided than ever before, and that things are getting worse. It is true we have some problems that need attention. Yet, do not forget the whole news, today people loved, people cared for others, people shared with others and people saved others. This happens every day. It is happening right now in Houston as you read this. People do amazing things for others every day.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric