Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Sandpaper Friends to Make a Fitting Temple

"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3:16) St. Paul asks the Christians of Corinth. Every time we receive Holy Communion, of course, we receive the Body and Blood of our Blessed Lord. Because the Three cannot be divided, Father and Spirit come into our souls as well: we become living tabernacles, living temples of the Living and Triune God.

But there's a problem: "Lord,... I am not worthy to have you come under my roof," (Luke 7:6) the Centurion said to Jesus. True enough. And yet, by the sheerest grace, the same God that made the fallen universe enters into it; the same God that made the sinner enters into him. We cannot earn the privilege of having God come into our home, our heart. But we can at least do our best to spruce the place up when he comes for a visit. To make my point more strongly, Paul says that by our baptism we are joined, as parts, into a single body of Christ, and that therefore we leave behind our sin, put on Christ, and mature into a new creation. The shanty of our soul cannot simply be spruced up - it must be made into a temple.

Ok. That's hard. Building a temple takes a lot of work - teamwork. This teamwork is one of the reasons why God made the Church. It's probably one of the reasons that God made Eve. Even without sin, Adam would still need to grow up, and that could only happen with the help of others to rub him the wrong way. Sometimes, even those we love the most rub us the wrong way, and present us with opportunities to grow in charity, to grow into temples of the Holy Spirit. I once heard such people called "sandpaper personalities." But a sandpaper personality needn't be someone we don't like or that annoys us. In fact, because of the odd perversity that comes to us through original sin, sometimes the people we like the most can irritate us the most. Maybe it is because of our affection for them, our felt closeness to them, that they can get so close that they even get under our skin. Things we would easily forgive in a stranger with whom we had little interaction can become real trials between closer friends: poor table manners, blabbing harmless but personal information, overly frequent and unreciprocated favors, etc.

The sanding is an essential process though, because it makes the visible surfaces smoother and more beautiful, and the hidden surfaces fit together better. Without the little day-to-day sanding, we are likely to end up all ugly and out of joint when big difficulties come along. I am currently searching for good responses to the sanding that other people provide us.

Right now, here's my best policy about it:
(1) See what's being rubbed the wrong way, and whether it needs to be rubbed off all the way;
(2) offer up the irritation and ask God to bring me by means of it to perfection;
(3) remember that if the person is bothersome right now, still we will all benefit only if we make a decision to continue loving each other.

Maybe next time one of my sandpaper friends rubs me the wrong way, I'll smile, thank them, and tell them how smooth they make me feel, and hope I can return the favor some day.

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