It seems like I've unwittingly stirred up a tempest in a teapot by mentioning that Christopher Hitchens didn't like Mother Teresa. (And he didn't just "not like" her, he wrote an entire booked about it.) I said he thought her an "empty habit".
Which brought to mind, for someone, another famous nun. A lot of people don't care much for her, my beloved 92 year old mother, for one.
I don't want to talk here about the truths or untruths about famous nuns. What I'd like to talk about is how to not like someone. This is an issue no one seems to think all that much about, since we all have folks that rub us the wrong way, we chalk it up to, "oh, well..." What do we do? We don't actually hate them. That would be sinful. So we just...avoid them. Go to a different parish, cross the street, sit somewhere else, find a different cafe, cross them off the Christmas card list.
And some people, for some people, are actually toxic and should be avoided at all costs. Abusive, dangerous people. Sociopaths. Psychopaths. Axe murderers. No one expects you to go give them a hug. We'll have to let Jesus give them hugs. They will be in our prayers.
I'm really talking about the annoying nuns and the cheating mechanics, the telephone solicitors, the loud horrible singers, the people who are always wrong about everything but won't admit it or don't even know, the rude, the cell phone blabbers, the traffic cutter offers, the loafers, the lazy, the people on the other side of the political spectrum. We avoid these people at all costs, so we don't grow to hate them. We think this is a good idea.
But, guess what? If things go well and you live a wonderful life, there is every reason to believe you will achieve your heavenly reward. And God is just and kind and way, way more forgiving than you could ever hope to be, which means that once you achieve your heavenly reward, you may find yourself sitting next to a fill in the blank. There won't be a rope line in heaven to corral them. There won't be a parish or a pew from which you can flee, another town in which to live, an apartment in which to hide with your caller ID.
You are going to have to love them.
"OH!" you say, "no problem! I'll be in Heaven and they will have changed, too if they're in Heaven!" You think? Maybe. God may love them just the way they are.
But let's imagine that we will indeed be perfect beings there in Heaven. Okay....but that means you'll have to change your thinking at some point. You actually will have to love and forgive everyone. Why wait to burn in Purgatory? You have to get your brain around this.
Why do we love Ralph Cramden's famous admonishment, "One of these days, POW! to the moon!" ? Because we all feel that way sometimes. You think I don't? You think living in a house with a bunch of very religious women makes me immune? Ou contrare. It can bring out the worst in everyone.
So how do we allow ourselves our opinions of others, which actually do inform our own choices, without judging and bad feelings? Drop the blame. Drop the idea that you know why they behave that way.
It is perfectly justified to note that Mother Teresa did a lot of fundraising. It is not justified to decide that she loved the limelight and that was her motivation. My mother doesn't care for the other famous nun because, "She (the nun) thinks she's being so cute."
Not your call, Mom.
Hate the sin, love the sinner, is so much more easily said than done. After all, it's the sinner that puts the sin into action. Without the sinner, there would be no sin, sin needs to be stopped, so the sinner should be stopped, too. Right? Stopped, if possible, yes. Judged, no.
So long, Nancy Grace! What could have been a public service is nothing more than a witch hunt. Nancy is set for a some very uncomfortable afterlife encounters. As are we all.
Thank goodness for Lent! Giving up avoiding people you don't like would be a good one for next year. It will be just like Heaven!