We drove in silence back from Mass. My older cousin, living her dream life in New York, clicked her tongue against the inside of her teeth. I was so embarrassed by what I had just said that I wished I could evaporate.
I bet a lot of people don't even really care about going to church but do it because they have to.
I was visiting as a consolation trip, a bad leg injury preventing me from continuing my summer competing in horse shows, and as I convalesced, my parents thought a special trip to see her and her husband would cheer me up. My clerical summer jobs in college juggled with a rigorous training program at the barn meant I rarely had time off.
And yet it seemed that my sharp and critical tongue had not taken a vacation as I blurted out my rude comments after observing her parish during Mass.
She glided into her condo parking spot and turned off the car. "You really don't ever know what's going on inside people's hearts, Nell. Maybe people aren't as reverent or enthusiastic as you're used to, but they're actually still going to Mass."
In today's Gospel, Matthew 21:28-32, we hear about the two sons, the one eager but a flake, the one defiant but obedient. I was probably an eager flake for most of college. Looking so proper and pious but somehow quick justify to myself all the hidden sins because, well, they were hidden. How many people have I judged over the years who were actually the obedient son? Probably lots.
It's been nearly 20 years since that conversation, and I still cringe over it. If you are also prone to quick judgments of others but few for yourself, you're in (my) company. A lot of foot-in-mouth instances combined with the humbling work of getting to know people all across the spectrum of the faith journey has helped me.
Be willing to look and listen, sister, and you will be as surprised and delighted as I am by the many lessons the Lord has in store for us.