Saturday, October 18, 2014


This is post # 300 on this blog! Just sayin'.


"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be made known. Everything you have said in the dark will be heard in the day..."(Lk 12:2-3) Ever wonder what that passage refers to? One interpretation I read this week is this: This excerpt occurs in the context of Jesus'controversy with the pharisees in which he accuses them of being hypocrites. Their religion, their faith, is mostly surface, concentrated on the legalistic minutiae of external rituals and customs. This  kind of shallow faith will not survive under the pressures of life.

The followers of Jesus are different. At the time that Luke was writing, the early Christians were under intense persecution -- their faith was being put to the test. That is when a person's inner self shows up. Under that kind of pressure the world gets to see what you're made of: what is hidden will be revealed, what is said in the dark is brought into the daylight.


This gospel was read on Friday, which happened to be the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyred about 107 a.d. He was condemned to death, and so was sent in chains to Rome where he was to be devoured by wild animals. During that journey we certainly found out what Ignatius was made of. He wrote seven letters to various churches and  people, letters that constitute a precious part of our early Christian heritage. In the face of his approaching death he begged his followers not to try to save him, but prayed that he might be wheat that would be ground by the beasts' teeth into "agreeable bread for the Lord." Under the unimaginable pressure of this persecution he showed himself calm, steadfast, and unswerving in his faith and his love for the Lord. The secret inner life of this bishop of Antioch was manifest for all to see, what had been hidden was now revealed.


As I meditated on the life of Ignatius of Antioch and on this passage from Luke, I remembered an incident
that had happened to me on Wednesday. To put it briefly, I corrected one of our students for being obnoxiously loud in the hallway while the sophomores in my room were taking the PSAT test. I took this youngster aside and in my best angry whisper I said: "What's the matter with you! What are you, two years old? Three?" I was expecting a repentant apology at this point but instead he answered "No, I'm five!" I knew that this was only going to get ugly if I pursued the issue, especialy since I was a lot bigger than this kid and was tempted to deck him for being so snotty. But my guardian angel (or was it his guardian angel) had me say in response,"Okay. Give me your student ID card!" He handed it right over. Students can't get into the building without ther ID so we both knew that it was important for him to get it back. "You can get this back from Mr. Rowe at lunch," I growled and sent him on his way as I returned to my proctoring job. I turned the card over to our Dean of Discipline along with the strange story of this kid's insolence.


When the freshman went to retrieve his ID card, Mr. Rowe took the opportunity to talk to this otherwise well-behaved kid with a high academic average to see if something was going on. We call it "turning over rocks." So he made the kid sit down in his office and asked him, "So what's going on? What made you be so disrespectful to Fr. Al?" At this point the freshman immediately broke into sobs and crumpled into his chair, the picture of heartbreak and misery. The previous day, it seems, his father had run off with another woman, abandoning his wife and kids. So this student had been walking around all morning with a broken heart and no one knew it.

When I heard this story I realized what a grace it was that I hadn't just insulted the kid and sent him on his way. He'd managed to catch someone's attention (mine) and I'd taken him up on it. Now he's started attending meetings of a group called "Unknown Sons," students who have huge issues wth their fathers (absent, addicted, abusive, etc.).

He was part of my Friday morning meditation on the lines, "There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be made known." His nasty secret was now out in the open and he was already doing something to deal constructively with it.

I don't have this kid in class, so I'll have to go find him in order to remind him that one of the following verses is Jesus' encouraging message to his followers under persecution: "Do not be afraid." 

Maybe he's sorry he opened his big mouth, but it will probably turn out to be a pretty important moment in his young life. Pray for him, please!


  1. Nice goin', Father! I just posted my 200th yesterday so I can relate. Also, this was an excellent reminder to look under the rock - the rock-hard exterior of someone who is hurting and turns the pain outward. I did workshops for more than 5,000 prison inmates, 90% male, over the course of 18 years and there's a LOT of pain that is masked in aggressive behavior. Thanks for your good words and I'll be watching for the next 300 and more!

  2. Bless that young man. What a hard thing for him. My husbands dad left right before he was born and he never got to know him. At 61 years of age it is still hard for him.