Monday 27 February 2017

"Love one another as I have loved you" - Impossible

When Christ hung dying on the Cross, despite His earlier betrayal, arrest, humiliation, beatings and torture; despite suffering the most painful of death and being taunted and tormented by His enemies, He still had love in His heart and asked for forgiveness on behalf of these people.

We are asked to do the same. We are asked to forgive others just as He forgave us. When we recite the Prayer He taught us we seek His forgiveness and promise to forgive others.

He also taught us to "Love one another as I have loved you". A Commandment no less.

Yet, when we consider both of these teachings from our Lord, to love one another and to forgive whatever hurt is done to us, we cannot help but wander whether it is at all possible.

When Christ forgave on the Cross and loved as He has loved it; was a Divine God who forgave and loved. Not a mere human like us. Can we, humans, possibly love and forgive as He?

Christ knows full well that what He asks us is impossible for us to achieve. Yet He asks all the same.

Being human we are subject to all human failings. When we are hurt we often feel resentment, ill-will and perhaps vengeance; and forgiveness might be very difficult an emotion for us when the pain is still fresh and raw. And in time, as the memories of the hurt and pains come back we may still find it hard to forgive. Or, if we find it in our hearts to forgive, as many indeed do, the memories bring back that pain once again and, at the very least, we feel hard done by.

To forgive totally, as Christ did, is not within our grasp because we are not as Divine as He.

And to love unequivocally, all those within our circle of acquaintance, never mind our enemies, and to turn the other cheek is certainly not within our powers. No matter how much we try, there will always be one person whom we do not like, who rubs us the wrong way, whom we'd rather avoid. Yet we're asked to love one another as He has loved us.


So ... what are we to do? Are we doomed to failure? Unable to forgive totally and to love without reservation?

Our response to Christ's Commandment is to try as best as we can to obey it. Through gritted teeth perhaps, we should try again and again to forgive and to love. The memories of the hurts done to us will return, but these should not stop us from forgiving again and again.

We will probably fail ... often. But this should not stop us from trying. We will never achieve the same level of forgiveness and love as Christ, but His example should urge us on to try harder.

Saints did not become Saints because they were necessarily good at all times. They were often sinners who kept on trying.

God knows our human nature. He knows our failings and weaknesses. He knows we cannot achieve the impossible.

But in His Divine love and mercy He will welcome us with open arms for eternity with Him ... just because we kept trying and never gave up.

Friday 24 February 2017

The Cauldron of Hatred

Looking from the sidelines, it seems to me that there is a big Cauldron of Hatred out there in the world filled with anxiety, bitterness, anger and even hatred amongst its other ingredients of evil.

It seems that in whatever walk of life, be it religion, politics, science or the arts, even dare I say, in one's personal life, there are unhappy people who resent their current situation, regardless of how rich or poor they are, regardless of how healthy or not, and regardless of anything else that can be used as a yardstick to measure their anxiety and angst.

People are generally unhappy and they are dumping their anger and frustrations in this huge Cauldron of Hatred which exists somewhere or other on this earth. It could be in the newspapers, on television and radio, on social media on the Internet, or indeed in their personal lives at work, at play, or even at home when they argue and vent with their spouse, children, neighbours or even the poor cat who gets kicked for no apparent reason.

Have you not noticed the negative tone of some of the stories in your newspaper? Or on TV programs, whether it is the News or even soap programs perpetrating sadness and bitterness as if art imitates real life and or vice versa? Have you not noticed the many postings on social media where individuals pour out their anger and malcontent for all to see and share? And in personal life too; can you not remember the last time the cat has had to hide in a panic to safeguard what is left of his nine lives?

Why all this negativeness? I hear you ask.

I am waiting ... are you asking as I'm expecting?

Why all this vile forever filling the Cauldron of Hatred?

Has it to do with the diets we are all eating? A shortage of good old fashioned roughage such as bran, for instance? Or a good spoonful of cod liver oil before going to bed?

Why are so many of us so upset about this and that and the other thing? Especially the other thing. You know what they say. If it is not this it is always the mother (in-law)!

Is it because we have become greedy and we all want what the other person has and more besides?

Where is the peace we are supposed to have towards each other? Loving one's neighbours and turning the other cheek? (By the way, I mean facial cheek, not your backside!).

Where is the forgiveness time and again and not just seven times seventy?

That's why we are behaving in the despicable way that we do. It has nothing to do with a lack of broccoli or other vile vegetables in our meals.

It is because we have forgotten to "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:35.

Meanwhile, the Cauldron of Hatred keeps filling to overspilling.

Saturday 18 February 2017

Be of Good Cheer

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Strange encounter at the restaurant

A most odd thing happened to me at the restaurant the other day. I was at a business meeting and I took the client I was with, Veronique Tombal, to a French restaurant.

She had frogs' legs; but I'll admit the rest of her body was superb.

Anyway, we sat down at table and after ordering our meals I asked for a bottle of Beaujolais. The waiter brought the bottle and, as is customary, he poured a few drops in a glass to be tasted first. Then, to my surprise, he picked up the glass and tasted it himself. I've never ever seen such a thing before. Usually, it is the customer who tastes the wine, and usually says something complementary about it as it is served to all at table.

But this time, the waiter, or sommelier as he is known, tasted the wine himself. Stranger still, he then declared, "Oh non monsieur ... ziz wine, eet haz been corked. Eet ees no good! I will gett anozer bottle!"

He then went away and returned with another bottle, which he opened there and then and pouring a drop or two in a glass he tasted it again.

"Zis one is better!" he said, as he served me and my business client.

Then, even more stranger, he poured wine in the glass he had already used for himself and sat with us at table.

I did not know what to say or do. I did not want to seem ungracious and tell him to go away, and before I had time to speak he said, "Eet eez very important to make sure ze wine eet has not been corked. Zis ees when ze bottle haz been badly opened and ze wine has touched ze cork and ze atmosphere at ze same time. Ze wine eez zen ruined."

"I see," I said, not having understood a word. Veronique smiled and said nothing.

"Wine, ees a very important part of ze meal," he continued, "especially in la belle France!"

Veronique smiled and asked, "Avez-vous toujours été un sommelier?" Meaning, have you always been a wine waiter?

"Oh non, madame ..." he declared, "before zat I was a snail farmer. I used to farm snails for ze best restaurants in Paris. Eet was a slow job sometimes aving to round zem up for ze night! I ad a sheep dog which walked slowly around ze field and he pushed ze snails with hiz nose in ze direction of ze barn where we kept ze snails for ze night! 

"Wee started at about 2 in ze afternoon and got all ze snails in ze barn by 6 in ze evening. 

"Ze next morning wee let zem out again to go in ze field for a promenade and to eat ze fresh grass."

"That's not how you farm snails," I said quietly.

"Oh monsieur, ours were ze free range snails. Not ze snails in cages. Wee let zem out in ze morning to walk freely in ze meadows and to tip ze toe through ze too lips!"

Veronique and I smiled and said nothing.

"One day we ad ze break-out!" he continued as he ordered another bottle of Beaujolais from the waiter serving our meals.

"You mean a break-in!" I corrected.

"Non monsieur," he replied, "a break out. During ze night some snails zey climbed up ze barn door and opened ze latch which held ze door closed. All ze snails zey escaped.

"In ze morning wee started a search for zem. Wee searched all around ze farm for a ten metres radius and wee did not find zem. Not even one. Zey ad all escaped. So wee brought in ze police elicopters to fly up and search wider. Wee widened ze search by anozer alf metre all around but wee found nothing. Zee snails ad travelled more than ten and a alf metres in one day!"

"Why did you not search further and for longer?" I asked.

"Oh monsieur, "he replied, "it waz ze time for the petit déjeuner ... ze breaky fast ... you know ... du pain, du vin et du fromage!"

Veronique and I looked at each other and smiled.

"And now monsieur et madame I ave to go and serve anozer table. Merci beaucoup for allowing me to taste your wine.

"May I try one of your escargots, pleeze?" he said as he picked a snail from my plate and left mumbling to himself, "eet needs more of ze garlique!!!"