Monday, January 23, 2012

Advent encounters . . . Sold my soul?

     Fr Brian! Fr. Brian! Can you come here for a second? The yell was from the deli counter at my local Wal-Mart. I reluctantly headed over. Too many people were in the ICU, there was a lot of work not getting done at church, and we had done little shopping. Karen had asked me stop and pick up a couple things on my way back from the hospital.  Do you have a couple minutes? I admitted that I had a few. Hang on. She went back toward the cakes for a minute and then reappeared with an older lady (another employee) in tow. Tell him about your problem. He can help you.

     The older lady began with the typical “you are going to think I am crazy, but I have a problem” introduction. I told her I had good ears and was even good at listening to crazy people and to tell me her problem. I think I sold my soul to the devil by accident. Without even thinking, I asked her how much she got for it. What? How much are souls worth nowadays? I haven’t heard of one being sold for quite a while, and I wonder what the going price is. As near as my math could follow, she received somewhere around $1200 for it. I had to admit my disappointment. I figured the price of a soul would be a lot more. But then the other ladies in the deli began to talk about how messed up the world was. The devil is winning right now, so the cost is probably down.

     Now, I will admit, I was tempted to just walk away and wish her well. At this point, only one of the ladies knew who I was. But I was set off by their fatalistic attitude. So I asked, “What do you mean by ‘the devil is winning right now’?” You know, gambling is everywhere, people are having sex with tons of people, people drink like fish, the economy is in the crapper, heck people are pepper-spraying people over toys. Open your eyes. I replied that my eyes were open, far wider than theirs. I asked if they new what season we were in. They said Christmas. I asked if they knew the significance of Christmas. Eventually they got around to the religious reason. And Jesus was born. And why is that important? Because He came to save us? Exactly. So why do you worry so about the world? One of the skeptics popped of well, He eventually was killed, so a lot of good coming into the world did Him. And, in case you haven’t noticed, the world has forgotten Him. But He has not forgotten any of us. Jesus came into the world knowing that He would be walking that road to the cross. He died because of all this and because of who we are and what we do. And He did it all because He loved us like no one in the world ever will. He knew that if He failed, you and I and everyone else would stand condemned before God. What makes Christmas awe-inspiring is the simple fact that God became human to save us all. I guess that’s true. Do you believe that He rose from the dead? Three agreed, one doubted, and the other shook her head. Looking into the eyes of the three, I reminded them that they had nothing to fear. If He was raised from the dead, we would be as well.

     Of course, my job was not yet done. One of my three assenters believed she had accidentally sold her soul.  Looking at her I asked her again, do you believe He died and rose again? Of course I do. Then you have nothing to fear. You can’t “accidentally sell your soul” because it was never yours to sell. What? They all wanted to know. He bought your soul with His flesh and blood. All our souls belong to Him, to do with us as He wishes. That makes a kind of sense. You bet it does. Why do you think people remind us from time to time that no scheme of man, no plot of evil will ever take us from His hand. Omigosh, that sounds like that hymn. It’s my favorite. Really? I love it when we sing it at church or I hear it on the radio. Have you ignored the words? Nothing can take you from Him once you claim Him Lord. I guess I never really thought of it like that. I was just convinced I had been tricked into doing something I shouldn’t have. Well, that’s how the Deceiver works. He imparts guilt wherever possible so that we forget the grace our Lord offers. And, truthfully, he has done a remarkable job on the five of you. Three claimed to believe, one wonders, and one does not believe. Here we are, 2000 years later still celebrating His birth. You ladies see it all, and still you forgot its importance. What did you say you do for a living? I didn’t. Like you, I am just a sojourner in this land. The first voice rang out again, pushaw! He’s not like us, he’s a priest. Nah, he can’t be, he has a wedding ring. Nah, he can’t be, he used simply words. Nah, he can’t be or he would have condemned me for doubting. Ladies, I have a couple errands to finish, so I’ll leave you to your conversations. I do hope this year, when you set around and see loved ones opening gifts, you remember His love for you and the gift He gave you.

     “Maralyn” the greeter stopped me as I started to walk on. That was amazing! How so? In less than 10 minutes, you convinced her that she had not sold her soul, and you even gave the doubter and that other girl something to think on. Why would you stop and have that conversation? Did you not hear the fear in her voice? Oh, I heard it. She’s been really upset for a couple days. Then I am doubly glad I stopped. No one at this time of year should ever doubt whether He loves us. She nodded and said she see me later. . . lol


No comments: