A few years ago he was at the pulpit for a month of Sundays. I always loved how he could weave homilies that continued for weeks. He taught me to see the fragments of Gospel presented each Sunday as the life of Christ.
At that time we were hearing about the Sermon on the Mount. He'd talked about how revolutionary Christ's message of love was in Old Testament days. "People were scared. Christ words were revolutionary. Following Him was more than just marveling at His miracles. Christ called for change. He called for love in the face of hatred, joy in the face of doubt. He turned everything upside down. Even in today's society the message of love is tough to get."
Fr Harry invited us to close our eyes. He painted a picture of the day we each reach heaven and first experience the wonders there. It was a lovely, warm picture.
Then he said, "Now you look to your right and there beside you is your most bitter, lifelong enemy walking with you. Are you feeling love?"
That shook me.
First I was surprised: my most bitter enemy had a face. I hadn't been aware I knew someone I could define as "my most bitter enemy"!
Then I was mad: wasn't I entitled to some cosmic justice?? If not burn-in-the-seventh-level-of-hell cosmic justice, then why not at least a few centuries of meandering up the mountain of purgatory?? (Any Dantonians out there?)
Now I'm simply thankful for Grace.
My failures are between me and God. And God loves me enough to cast those failures as far as the east is from the west. I'm so blessed by that, I don't have time to worry anymore about where someone else is in their relationship with God. I can't find the energy to enshrine a most bitter enemy.
Whenever I encounter people who talk about the wrath of God or His vengeance, I find myself hoping they keep reading until they finish the Old Testament and make it to the New Testament--especially the part where Christ shares the Sermon on the Mount.