Category Archives: Failure

Just Another Man In The Presence Of Jesus

The History Channel’s The Bible series was watched by lots of people.  I enjoyed most of it.  There is only so much that can be covered in the time they had.  Obviously, they left a lot out.  I thought some of what they left out could have been covered.  For example, at Pentecost, the disciples spoke in other languages, but they were not shown talking that way to the public.  And it didn’t show how the public thought they were drunk.  There was nothing shown about the Roman guards at the tomb of Jesus or the angels that were there, the road to Emmaus, etc.  Despite all they left out, it was still an interesting program to watch.

I liked that the show demonstrated the humanity of the disciples pretty well.  Even with Jesus staring them in the face they still acted human.  They were in the direct presence of Jesus for three years, but they were not groveling on the ground or prostrating themselves the entire time.  Sometimes they were scared, or they fell asleep, or they had a bad attitude, or they were apathetic, etc.  This is just like we are today, even in the real presence of Christ we have good days and bad days.  Followers of Jesus are not perfect.  Jesus is perfect.

Knowing my humanity, I try my best to do this when I go to Mass:

– I listen carefully to the Scriptures and the sermon.

– I’m mindful of the fact that I am about to encounter the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ and receive Him into my whole self, body and soul.  (“This is my body, this is my blood.”)

– I remember how the disciples fell asleep after Jesus asked them to pray with Him.

– I remember how Thomas doubted until he saw the wounds on the living Christ and then said, “My Lord and my God.”

-I remember that Jesus said to Thomas, “You see me and you believe.  Blessed are those who have not seen, yet still believe.”

– I remember how Peter denied even knowing Jesus and then repented.

– I remember that all the heavenly saints and angels are also worshiping at this Mass and every Mass.

– I think about how Mass is constantly being said at some point on Earth at all hours of every day and how this links us to each other and to Heaven.

-I remember that there is faith, hope and love, and that the greatest of these is love.

-I remember that God is love, that Jesus is love in flesh and blood, and that I am there to receive that flesh and blood.

-I remember that we are what we eat, so I need to let Christ nourish me and change me into God’s love.

“F” Words

There is no better way to learn something than to live it.  That’s what we call experience.  Vicarious learning is good, but can have certain limitations.  “I have experience” actually means, “I have had some troubles.”

For example, if I hire someone with experience, I hire a person that has personal exposure to failure.  That person has messed things up in the past and has learned not to repeat those mistakes.  Much of that person’s knowledge is probably learned vicariously (i.e. other people’s mistakes), but it is the personal failures that have provided the experiential learning.  This is why people like to see an airline pilot with “a little gray around the temples.”  It is assumed that such a pilot will have already used up any rookie mistakes and is experienced as possible.  It is also why veteran combat soldiers look upon new recruits with apprehension.  “Don’t do anything to get us killed.”

The first “F” word is failure.  Failure is how we learn.  None of us exit the womb, stand up, and begin walking.  We all have to learn to flail our limbs about, then roll over, then scoot, then crawl or roll around before we can even begin to stand.  Once we stand, we can then experience the falling down required for learning to walk.  And fall we do, time and time again.  It is very endearing to watch a child fall down over and over, because we instinctively know why they are doing it.  We smile and laugh at each failure and then celebrate the success of the first steps.

At some stage, we stop appreciating failure and behave as if it is something to be avoided at all cost.  Some folks develop an overarching fear of failure.  Fear is the second “F” word.  Certainly, as we get older and more responsible, some failures carry more weight.  Some failures do need to be avoided at all cost.  Airline pilots and soldiers know this.  Nevertheless, we cannot continue to learn and grow without failure.  Actually, it is failure that helps us realize our full potential.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.  In our hearts and in our actions, we don’t keep the Ten Commandments very well.  We fail.  The law was given as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).  Actually, we don’t break the law so much as it breaks us.  If we are honest, our lack of perfection compels us to seek out true perfection.  Enter Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.  “O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer” (The Felix Culpa).

So, let not your heart be troubled.  Fear not.  Your failures taught you how to walk and then to run.  Let them lead you to everlasting life and peace as well.  Let them heal your relationships.  Let them show you your full potential in Jesus Christ.  We are all called to be saints.  There are no saints in Heaven without a past.  There are no sinners on earth without a future.  The Church is a spiritual hospital for sinners.  That’s what God’s Word is for.  That’s what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for.  That’s what the Bread of Life is for.  We all fail.  We all can be redeemed.