Born of a "Yes"
Irene's children are out protesting, but at home, respect is an issue. So, what is the basis of our respect for one other?
I have been very grateful to do this work on morality, particularly in these times with all the reactions over the George Floyd story. I see everybody expressing great indignation. Everybody seems to be a model of morality. Everybody knows who should be doing what and how to change our society for the better.
My kids went marching, proclaiming their support for Black Lives. But then they seem unable to respect their parents or their siblings. But I remember at their age how troubled I was at the request to respect my own father, because I saw faults in him I could not forget. (At that time, they seemed to outweigh his virtues, which wasn’t true, but this is a different story.)
If respect for the other is determined by his or her behavior, his or her capacity to be good, I honestly can’t respect anybody, even less myself. We are all sinners, aren’t we? So, what allows me to respect a sinner? The fact that his or her sins are not too big? The fact that they don’t bother me that much? So who, in the end, deserves respect? I would really be confused and cynical at this point, if I had to judge anybody, including myself, on the basis of the inconsistencies that I see, and I would perceive everyone as a hypocrite.
Morality as born of a "yes" to His merciful Presence is the only proposal that corresponds to me. Respect as looking at the other with my eye on the One who makes him and me, is the only real possibility to respect anybody, black or white, archbishop or president, my own children, myself.
I have come to love Peter deeply for saying that “yes,” for leading this companionship of people who are sinners but cannot deny their love for Jesus. I can see that my affection for Him is not be measured by how consistent I am with His commandments, but by my dependence on Him, by my certainty that He will change me. And I finally can really respect my husband, my father, my kids. Myself.
I really thirst for this awareness because I tend to forget it and fall back into moralism, scandal, cynicism. Don Gius invites me to renew my memory in my morning prayer. Our friendship provokes me everyday to renew this awareness. Last week we were given the chance to go back again to that incredible meeting at the New York Encounter with Daryl Davis and Christian Picciolini. I am very grateful to be helped daily to a true way of looking at morality.
Irene, North Bethesda, Maryland