Today, while I was praying evening prayer on my phone at a little Virgin Mary garden outside of church after Mass, I received a call and I decided to pick up mid-prayer. I was greeted by the voice of a woman after a little effort (since she didn’t hear my “hello” that well) and then proceeded to give one of the most exaggerated and pitchyest pitches I’ve ever heard (Her tone was so congratulatory and filled with such passionate excitement, though obviously forced). Apparently, I was the lucky winner of a reward cruise to Orlando, Florida, by virtue of my recent stay at one of their resorts and needed only to answer a short set of questions! The first question, “Are you between the ages of 18 and 70?” Well, for one thing, I hadn’t been to any resorts ever in my life so I told her that she probably had the wrong number (this is the primary reason for my suspicion of the call’s legitimacy along with her not stating her company’s name and not addressing me by my name, but anyways). She couldn’t hear me so she restated the question to which I responded that I will be unavailable particularly because – but then she hung up before I could finish. Yea, probably a scam, I thought, and how fake she sounded too! How can people be like this to each other, so insincere in an effort to just get what they want. This is precisely what’s wrong with relationships today. As I finished with my own little self-righteous musings, I looked down at my phone to continue prayer again but, before I could mouth the words, I was struck with the realization that I myself was being so insincere; and what’s more, so insincere with God.
Looking up at the statue of the Virgin Mary, I reflected on my own insincerity. Most immediately, I had interrupted my prayer time to pick up a call from an unknown number; but to call it “prayer time” is itself iffy, for I was speeding through the words and hardly reflected upon what I was saying or engaged an intentional focus in an effort to get it finished out of obligation more or less. I was using vain repetitions spurred by the slightly chilly air and a desire to get back home quicker (Matthew 6:7). Then, back during the Mass, I recalled being less than ideally participating in it but rather spending too much time looking around and seeing who was there (it being bilingual was my big excuse for phasing out especially) and, I’ll admit, seeing if there were pretty young ladies among them (Lord have mercy). Then, I thought back to when I was at home earlier that day and how I was looking through my phone while my Mom and Dad and brother were sitting together in the dining room and my parents were trying to talk to me. Agh! You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5).
So then I looked down again and started where I left off, the Magnificat, until the end and began to re-evaluate what I do, which is part of what I’m doing here I suppose. One of the things that I’ve come to greatly value is sincerity, authenticity, and genuineness in a person’s character. What you see is what you get; no hood being pulled over eyes, no haughtiness or inflated ego, no manipulation or deceit, but truthfulness, humility, genuine care and love. As Christians, our call is to live in Truth and sincerity of heart. This is so, not only in regards to our relationship with God, but also in our relationships with other people, with everyone. Saint Teresa of Avila says that to be humble is to “live in the truth” (“andar en la verdad”). And what is the truth about us and our relationships? That without love, it all becomes corrupt and devoid of meaning. They become conniving, malicious, selfish. They become about putting the others below you and stepping on heads to better your own life. They become dog eat dog and the world becomes a lonely place where you are your own world and the limit of your life’s experience because everything and everyone around you is merely a thing to be used for your own gain. But God, the source of Truth, has showed us a path polar opposite to this sad state of affairs. He shows us through His giving and His teaching and His promises that we were made for greater. We were made for Heaven and we are called to be His sons and daughters. We are called for Love and for Life; as the St. Irenaeus states so boldly, “the glory of God is Man fully alive”. And when are we fully alive? When we live in union with God, the source of all Life and Love; God who is Love itself (1 John 4:8). This we know not only by word but also by example of Jesus Christ who came down from heaven to show us this very fact by His life; Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
I need to remember to keep it real, for my insincerity will only add to the darkness of the world. I need to remember that I am called to be a light in the world, being a lamp from which the light of God shines out; the light which is love and eternal life, mercy and forgiveness, truth and friendship.
May God help us in this endeavor, to live well and be good friends, neighbors, sons, daughters, parents, lovers.