When I was growing up, there was one thing that often left me brokenhearted and teary-eyed…
I seemed to have trouble keeping friends.
At first I thought that there was just something wrong with me, and so I sought to correct all of my faults in order that others would not take offense from being around me.
Hardly a day went by when I did not think about how to become a better person and so please God and my neighbor.
Yet, this did not seem to help.
In fact, as time went on, I seemed to become more and more of an outcast.
In my confusion I asked some of the people who had become distant towards me what it was that made them no longer wish to be friends with me.
They always seemed to give the same answer, “You are just different.”
I would then pressure them, asking them to explain further, but they never would.
So, I then tried all the harder to detach myself from any imperfection that I might have which could be offending people; hoping that eventually I would hit upon the problem and solve it.
Yet, the harder I tried to be become virtuous and less offensive; the more most people came to despise or dislike me.
Eventually I sat back and asked God, “All right… So, what in the world am I still doing wrong?”
The funny thing is that my question was actually part of the answer to my problem…
A person can not serve both God and the world.
Most of the people who had disconnected themselves from me were very worldly Catholics.
They cared more for the good opinion of men than how God wanted them to live, and being around me made them ashamed of the way that they were living.
Not to say that I am anything great; just that being around someone who actually cared more about offending God than people made them think about whether their lives needed to be changed. Yet, they were not open at all to considering that, and so they avoided me like the plague.
Knowing this then brings up the question:
When we come to see that the reason why many people hate or despise us is because we are not worldly like them, do we dare to be different?
Our salvation and eternal happiness depends upon it!
Therefore, we must!
It certainly will not be easy.
We will be laughed to scorn.
We will be called weird and abnormal.
We will be humbled and ridiculed to the point were our eyes are filled with tears and our hearts cry out, “Enough!”
But did not Our Lord say that we must pick up our crosses in order to reach heaven, and that He will provide for us all that we need if we only trust in Him?
Therefore, from this day forward, let us not worry so much when worldly people ridicule us for being different from them.
Instead, when we are mocked; let us be grateful for being given a token that we are on the path to heaven. For when we are hated by those of the world; it is a sign that we do not belong to it.
And finally, let us pray for the courage to fight the good fight, and dare to be different whenever God asks us to be so...from now until the day we die!