I imagine that most of us aren’t completely confident when we think about our final judgement before God. I mean, let’s face it, not one of us is certain of what to expect. Sure, we’ve heard a variety of suppositions about what kind of questions we may be asked or how we may have to account for our behavior, but again, we’re not exactly sure about what is going to happen. But answering for my sins doesn’t stress me out too much and it’s certainly not because I don’t have any! It’s because I know my what they are. I am very aware of the times that I have chosen gossip over silence, anger over forgiveness, pride over humility and so forth. I know that I do my best to repent and go to confession regularly, but I also know that’s probably not all there is to it.
Each time we pray the formula for general confession in Mass, I am reminded of the source of my concern about my judgement. It’s not the “what I have done” part but the “what I failed to do” that strikes fear in me. It’s the unknown, the stuff I’ve missed. What gives me pause are all the chances God gave me to be kind, loving and merciful to people that I totally ignored. Maybe I was busy and didn’t think I had time to go out of my way to help someone. Maybe I was tired and hit decline on the incoming phone call because I didn’t feel like listening to the person on the other end. Maybe I averted my eyes instead of sharing a loving look with a person who was struggling with sadness or grief. I’m not proud of any of these things but I’m sure I’ve done them and thus failed to be Jesus hands and feet and heart to others.
My fear is that all of these missed opportunities will be shown to me, newsreel style – I know that’s weird but it’s my imaginary judgement. I fear it will be a cringeworthy display of my selfishness. But then, in His infinite mercy, I pray that God will have another newsreel reminding me of the times I didn’t fail. I’ll be shown the small things I did that made a difference to people that maybe I never realized. This would show things like the compliment I paid to a mom who felt tired and wrecked, the kind note I wrote to a coworker who desperately needed it, the hugs I gave, the love I shared that may not have even been on my radar. I’m resolving to try hard to live so that newsreel is far longer than the first one. It’s not easy because it requires us to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. It means we have to put our own mood, exhaustion and stress on the back burner to focus on someone else, maybe even a stranger.
Will you join me in looking for the opportunities you have to share God’s mercy and love with someone today?
Michelle lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and two kids. She is a cradle Catholic and runs a small business. Michelle is slightly obsessed with St. Padre Pio and 80s music.