Monday, November 12, 2012

Confession #30 - What a Pity and a Shame!

I clung to my mother most of my young life and this day was no different. I didn’t want her to leave me and I certainly didn’t want to be there, but my religious education had to begin so she left me in the not-so capable hands of Sister Mary Elizabeth at Our Lady of Angels to begin my weekly CCD classes. Lessons aimed at teaching us about Jesus’ sacrifice and preparing our young hearts and minds to become the brides and grooms of Christ in First Holy Communion.

Growing up Catholic I knew who Jesus was. He was the guy hanging from the crucifix on the altar of the church. He was the man I was told that I had killed because of my sins. He was the man I was to fear because if I didn’t believe in Him I would go to Hell. Back then the Catholic Church was different than today. This was the 70’s; nuns were still smacking kid’s knuckles for saying bad words or not memorizing a prayer.
A few weeks into my “lessons” a terrible thing happened. A school book from the desk I sat at had gone missing. The student to whom the book belonged claimed that it was in his desk when he left that day but it was not there the next day. The only other person who sat at the desk was me, so naturally, I got blamed. Sister Mary Elizabeth pulled me up in front of the entire class to interrogate me. “Where is the book Joanne?” “I don’t know sister I didn’t take it.” “Tell me the truth, you did take it.” “No honest, I didn’t”. “You are a thief and a liar and you must be punished.” She grabbed me by the arm and pushed me into a corner. “But I didn’t take it”, I screamed. So ashamed, I burst into tears. There I stood accused and punished for a crime I didn’t commit. I did learn a lot about my Savior that day; I learned what it was like to be mistreated and abused when you were innocent. I learned what it meant to bear shame.
Sister Mary Elizabeth may have been the target of my scorn for many years if it weren’t for my mother. No, instead I pitied her. Suffice it to say that when my mom discovered what Sister Mary Elizabeth did to me she suffered a fate far worse than I. My mother got into the face of this young “woman of God” and called her a no good, lying fill in the blank with every dirty name for a lady’s part can think of with a few more colorful words to boot. I felt so sorry for Sister Mary Elizabeth. I was ashamed for her and as I left the classroom that afternoon, I hugged her and told her that I forgave her.
My mother, on the other hand, not so much…. It was her I was ashamed of now. I’ve since forgiven her especially now as a mother myself, I realize that she was only showing the wrath of a protective mother. But as a six year old child I didn’t understand and I found it quite difficult to forgive her for the embarrassment and shame her actions had caused me. Twice in one day I had bore the shame of someone else’s actions.

What I have come to understand is that even at such a young age, God had been preparing me for His work. 1 Peter 2:19-24 reminds us, “…For it is commendable if you bear up under the pain of unjust suffering because you are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Jesus took the shame of our sin away from us, instead of pity God promises, But Israel (God’s people) will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.”  Isaiah 45:17
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you today for taking away the shame of my sins Lord, even the ones I keep buried deep inside. I thank you that when I suffer persecution that you commend me father. I pray for my sisters in Christ that the shame they have suffered be turned to gladness knowing that they are considered commendable before God for suffering innocently at the hands of those who are truly to be pitied. I pray for those people who have shamed us in the past that God will reconcile them to himself. In Jesus precious name I pray. AMEN.

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