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Yes, I Pray for Jerks

I don't know what is up with public transportation or society in general these days, but people seem to be on edge about everything.... Just yesterday, one guy started to go off on some woman because she touched his bag. I missed the beginning of the whole argument, but from what I gathered from the other passengers on this very crowded train,  this woman may have moved the guy's bag out of the way because it was in her face or something trivial like that. Instead of acting reasonably or letting it go, guy gets into an argument with her...and it literally escalated to the point where he sounded like a foul-mouthed 5 year old having a tantrum. The woman, it appeared, was trying to keep her cool but refusing to give into his verbal abuse or accusations. Regardless of what this woman tried to say to defend herself, this guy kept going on a rampage and started turning the whole situation into something sexual. As bizarre as it may sound, he made the whole thing out to be something like a "she only gave me a problem because she's not sexually attracted to me and, therefore, must be a *insert expletive here.*" Throw in a few f-bombs and you pretty much have a whole train looking at this guy with a mix of disgust, disbelief, and shock. Even so, this guy either didn't care or just thought he was 100% in the right...and so he kept on at it.

Yes, I can see how moving someone's stuff may bother them.  Yes, I can see someone get bothered by the woman touching his bag, but there was no reason for his anger, his language, and the extremely rude manner in which he was treating this woman. Eventually, an older gentleman got up and told the first guy "That is no way to speak to a lady. Your language is unattractive. . . ." He kept his cool, raising his voice only to get the guy's attention and to assert some level of authority over the situation. He did not shout...and he did not use any form of vulgar language. I silently thanked the gentleman for standing up for that woman, and the women sitting beside me breathed a sigh of relief that someone stood up for the woman.  Instead of listening to reason, however, the irate guy makes a vulgar sexual reference (either at the woman or at the gentleman confronting him) and finally decides to quiet down for the rest of the ride with the exception of a "shut the F*** up" snarl at the woman before he got off....because nothing says maturity like getting one last punch in after the fight's already been declared over.

At some point during the whole thing, I said a little prayer for this guy. Yes, I prayed for the jerk. I prayed for him to realize the error of his actions and I prayed for a conversion of heart on his part. I don't know if he was Catholic and I certainly don't know if he even believes in God...but I prayed for him regardless. People like this are in need of intense prayer and we often don't think to pray for them. Based on what I have read on saints, the afterlife, and souls...sometimes these people are a few prayers away from receiving that tiny bit of grace they need to start the rest of their lives off with a clean slate. These souls could be slaves to the sin of avarice, lust, or...in this case...pride and ire. These souls probably don't know how to pray for themselves...or simply refuse to pray for themselves. This makes it very difficult for them to seek God's love on their own...and it makes it harder for them to accept God's love once they do find it.

I know that there are plenty of people out there that come to mind whenever you pray. You probably feel a need to pray for a family member to get back to work in this terrible economy, for a friend to combat cancer, or even for the state of our country's future. I'm not asking for you to stop praying for these very noble causes. However, I am challenging you to pray for those out there in most need of God's love. I'm challenging you to pray for the people you hate. I'm challenging you to pray for the attacker as well as the victims. I'm challenging you to pray for the sinners as well as the saints.
"Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me."- Matthew 25:45
When people read the aforementioned passage, they often imagine Christ asking his followers to help those experiencing material poverty. Yes, we are called to feed the people that are starving for food. We are also called to give water to those who are thirsty in drought-ridden areas of the world. We are also called to clothe the naked and protect the weak. However, we are also called to take care of spiritual poverty.

The "jerk" on the train looked like he was well off on the outside. He certainly didn't look malnourished or dehydrated. His clothing was clean...and he didn't look like he'd lived a hard life. His actions, however, revealed that he suffered from immense spiritual poverty...and according to Bl. Mother Teresa...this is the worst poverty. Material hunger can be satisfied by food...but spiritual hunger is something that isn't so easy to feed. The cure to spiritual hunger requires a leap of faith and a dying of self. The cure to spiritual hunger is not easy because it first requires us to go beyond our own insecurities and fears. Then it requires us to go against the current of today's extremely egotistical lifestyles...before requiring us to give in completely to God's mission for us. In order to accept this mission, your selfishness must disappear along with your need to put yourself before others.
God's laws are not laws of natural selection...where strong triumph over weak and where we learn to put self before others. His laws are of complete love....which often goes against our instinct to put ourselves first. They are laws that require a lot of changes within our own hearts...changes that will renew us time and time again. Your pride must disappear. Your jealousy must disappear. Your self-loathing must disappear. Eventually, once enough of these vices are gone...you find yourself in a state where you begin to accept God's love into your life. You find yourself praying for others rather than spending hours of prayer on yourself for external things such as a new car or a winning lottery ticket. You don't need these external luxuries when you truly begin to allow God in your life...when you truly begin to live for God. Eventually, after finally accepting God's grace completely and without any reservation...you begin to regard everyone (even the biggest jerks out there) as children of God in need of love even if they have no love to offer back.

I'm not perfect...and am still far from the point I want to be at when it comes to loving my neighbor. However, I AM at the point where I am beginning to understand that the people out there in most need of my love and prayers...are the "jerks" out there who could not care less about me.... I am beginning to see them as works in progress even if they offend me, even if they commit crimes, even if they do things I find distasteful (like cursing off an elderly person trying to defend a woman he didn't even know).  I pray for them to one day acquire spiritual goods...because that is what they need most. They don't need our scorn or disappointment...because these definitely won't lead to a conversion of heart. What they need is God's grace and, fortunately, prayer can move mountains when it comes to conversions of heart. All it takes is that first bit of grace before even the most hardened criminal begins to see the error of their ways.

With that said, I challenge you to pray for the first jerk that comes to mind upon as soon as you are finished reading this post.

And no, I don't mean cartoon jerks...

Pax Vobiscum

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