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Saturday, March 7, 2009

You should have been paying attention...

So yesterday, I was visiting a parishioner in the hospital. I pushed the up button, walked in the elevator and pressed 4. A man came in after me and I asked what floor he needed. He said Ground Floor, so I pushed “Ground Floor.” Bing! We’re at the 4th floor and he says, “What floor is this?” I said, “Fourth.” He said, “You should have been paying attention! I needed to go down!” I didn’t say a thing; I was a bit shocked and just walked out. It sunk in as I walked down the hall.

My first reaction- “I should have been paying more attention!” Umm, shouldn’t you have noticed that the elevator light above the elevator was lighted to go up? Or, possibly you noticed that the 4 button was already pushed when you came on the elevator?

Then I started to think—still somewhat annoyed….This is what we do, isn’t it? This is what people do? Something doesn’t go the way we want and we blame and guilt someone else. Right now it’s happening nationwide with the current economic crisis. The government blames the banks, the banks blame CEOS or loan holders, most people blame a lack of regulation coupled with anger at those who took loans they couldn’t afford. They thought they could afford it—at the rate they got- but the rate went up and so they couldn’t….Maybe they blame themselves for not thinking through the consequences of an adjustable rate mortgage, maybe they blame the bank for giving them the loan in the first place- who knows? Wherever we are- hopefully when it comes to this we’ll stop worrying about blame, and just work towards a recovery.

But not just in the credit crisis- we blame a lot. We don’t tell the truth enough and we don’t take responsibility.

Sometimes it seems easier. If we blame something or someone else we don’t have to hurt anyone’s feelings, we don’t have to come down one way or another with a decision, but ultimately we don’t tell the truth. We don’t take responsibility for our own actions or lack of action.

And now it is Lent. We journey to Good Friday where Christ took complete blame and complete responsibility at the same time for everything--- He didn’t need to do it, He was often rejected for doing so- still today He is rejected for this ultimate sacrifice. It came of pure love. No co-opting, no begging, no pleading, no manipulation. He freely gave, and freely took the pain, guilt, blame, sin for the whole world.

I just laugh thinking about the elevator situation. It is silly, it is benign, but it is powerful. My prayer is that it will remind me to be observant, aware, and responsible for my own actions and that I will not attempt to take on what is the responsibility of others.

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