Lately, I seem to get onions with a tight outer skin that peels off in microscopic flakes. I stand there and pick away at the devious top layer, shifting from one foot to the next, my irritation rising, sure some farmer somewhere has genetically modified the little minions just to make my supper preparation longer than necessary.
Yesterday, while having a hold of one of these devious white bulbs, I had to remind myself that I was practicing patience. I moved to the cabinet to make it at least a bit easier to peel. I settled my hip against the cabinet and decided to start my rosary since I was doing a relatively mindless task. I picked and flaked as the words pressed through my lips while contemplating our Lord’s agony in the garden. I finished my decade and said my Fatima prayer.
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.
I realized, then, that I had made no progress on the onion. In a fit of frustration, I gouged through the skin and into the first layer and yanked, the smell biting into my nostrils and burning my eyes, the juice dripping from finger.
Yep, my patience had fled.
It’s a good thing I am not an onion.
God, in his infinite mercy, slowly peels and picks at the outer layers of our souls. We do not overcome our faults overnight. Oftentimes, just like the skin of an onion, old habits stick to us and refuse to leave. Rather than gouging, God simply continues to peel the flakes off us in microscopic portions. His patience is ever lasting. He never tires of working with us.
And He rarely, if ever, gouges into us unless there is no other way to catch our attention, or unless we, in our stubbornness, have brought such violence onto ourselves. Even then, if we cooperate and ask for His help, He will use it to our good, for His greater glory, and for our salvation. And unlike the onion, we can cooperate with Our Lord’s grace through prayer, confession, penance, and small sacrifices to make the layers softer and easier to peel. If we do so, He will help us find our inner onion that is clear of blemishes and ready to be used for God’s glory.
After a quick attitude adjustment, accompanied by a small act of contrition and another resolve to be more patient with myself, others, and ornery vegetables, I went back to readying my onion for my Salmon Potato Pie, slicing and dicing and tossing it into the pan.
My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations;
Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work;
that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.
The Epistle of St. James the Apostle
1: 2-4 (Douay-Rheims Version)
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