Reflection: Who's Kidding Whom?
by Father Don Thomas
Trying to fool others is a game that most, if not all, people play at some time or other in the course of their lives. Millions of times it has been stated that while it is relatively easy to fool our parents, our teachers or even our best friends, it is impossible to fool God. It is truly amazing, however, to consider how often many make that attempt. In this reflection, let us consider a few illustrations of that fact. This could be me or you, and we end up finally realizing that the ones fooled are ourselves. Some examples.
Over the years, different people have said to me: "Father, I have enjoyed talking with you, and I suppose you must be wondering why you never see me in church. To be honest with you, I just can't stand crowds. Crowds make me nervous and crowds and me just don't get along. You can be sure of that because that's the truth". Upon leaving such a person's company, I have often wondered if "that is for sure, if that is the truth". The reason I wonder about it is because in that very same conversation, that lady told me that she loves bingo and goes three times a week, she loves the gambling casinos and frequents them regularly, she loves baseball and football games and attends them quite often and she just can't stay away from the malls. For a person who cannot stand crowds, I have to admit that I am inclined to question her honesty. Who does she think she is fooling or kidding? Me? That's not hard to do. Do you think she is fooling God?
What about all those who think and talk like that very same lady and they get baby-sitters for their children so they can go to the bingo, the casino, to the football game or shopping for hours every week, but when it comes to going to church or important school meetings, they would have loved to have gone, "but I didn't have anyone to watch the kids". Yet, for all the other things, the baby-sitter is no problem at all. Who do these people think they are kidding? With the passing of time, they usually find out, but really I think they knew it all the time.
Another fascinating and interesting scenario along these same lines is posed by the fellow who almost arrogantly tells the priest or his friends off, letting them know beyond any doubt that the reason he never goes to church is because he is really angry. He is angry with God, with the church, with his wife and kids and he's angry with everyone whoever brings up the idea of going to church. Do you want to know why he is so angry. It is be cause "ever since I was a kid, those teachers, those nuns and those priests made us go to church every morning. They forced it on us and I had enough of that. I just gave it up ever since I got out of school". To tell you the truth, I usually have no trouble telling people who talk like this that I really admire their willingness and sincerity in getting these thoughts off their chest. They really think they are all right. However, what makes them start thinking twice about their attitude is when I point out to them, that while I do admire their sincerity, I cannot say the same for their honesty or lack of honesty as is the case. Look at this guy's lack of logic or honesty. He is saying that because he was forced to go to church when he was a kid, he gave it up later on in life. Yet, as a kid, he was just like the rest of us when our parents insisted that we get into the house for supper when we really wanted to stay out and play with our friends. We were forced to come in, and yet as we got older, I notice we didn't stop eating. When we were forced or ordered to go to bed early when we really wanted to stay up and play, or listen to the radio or watch TV (if we had it)—yes, our parents forced us to go to bed, but again, I notice that when we got older we did not give up on sleeping. Neither did this fellow we are dealing with in this story. To be honest, logical and consistent, if he gave up on church because it was insisted upon as part of his training, then he should also have given up eating and sleeping for the same reason.As I stated above, this could be me or you in any of these situations. Human nature being what it is, we have to admit that whether we are in marriage, education, government, religious life or in any other profession, whether we are young or old, we seem to have tendencies to get away with what we can. For the most part, in these situations, we frequently end up kidding or fooling ourselves for the most part. In the end, we eventually find out that we did not even come close to kidding or fooling God. It is for that very reason, I think, that we often hear people saying something like: "I'll tell you one thing: "If I had my life to live over, I surely would do a lot of things differently".
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