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A few months after 9/11, I had to fly to Pittsburgh. Before going through security, I got a bagel at Dunkin’ Donuts. I took my bagel bag and brought it to security, and they found a plastic knife in the bag. Why I ask did the clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts put a plastic knife in the bag with the bagel right after 9/11 forty feet away from security. The security people were not happy. They let me fly out, but they confiscated the bagel. So there I am waiting to board the plane thinking, “It would be nice to have a bagel while I am waiting here.” I did not get angry. I cut the guy at Dunkin’ a break.
One evening I was on call for the hospitals and a nurse called me at 2:00 AM. She said, “We need a priest. Hurry.” So I hurried. I jumped out of bed, put my shoes on, grabbed my coat and got to the hospital. When I arrived at the patient’s room, the nurse said, “The doctor is doing a procedure. Go to the waiting room, and I will call you.” I asked her, “How long is going to be?” She said, “It shouldn’t take long.” While I was waiting for an hour and a half, it crossed my mind that I could still be home in bed. She could have called me after the procedure instead of making me wait. But I didn’t get angry. I cut her a break.
Why do I do that? Why do I cut people breaks? I sometimes picture myself after death. There I am walking through the pearly gates into heaven. I see the beatific vision, angels singing, and all the saints clapping as I enter. I ask St. Peter, “How did I end up here?” St. Peter says to me, “Apparently God cut you a few breaks.” Then I respond, “Why would He do that?” Peter retorts, “Do you remember the time you were called to the hospital, and you had to wait in the waiting room. When the nurse came to get you one hour and a half later. You were very nice to her.” I said, “I am admitted into heaven because I was nice?” Peter responded. “That is not why you are in heaven. You are here because you did it all the time.”
The next day late in the afternoon I got another call to go to the hospital. When I got there the same nurse came over to me, and this is what she said: “I was hoping it was you, you’re the nicest priest.” I said to her, “Did you just come back on duty?” She said, “I never left.” I said, “Boy, I am glad I was nice to you.”
Here is the point. Jesus gives us very demanding directives about anger. That is a very hard request. I know from personal experience because I grew up with four brothers. But if you follow Jesus instructions and do not get angry at others, you will never regret it. People will always benefit from your kindness. Whenever you give anyone a break, know that God will make sure that the favor will always return back to you.Back to All Homilies