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2015-09-03 13:42


Many years ago, one of my patients was a professional ex-burglar.  He’d not had a conversion and thereby given up his career.  He’d stopped breaking into houses only because, as he aged, he found it more difficult to escape from the police.  Confined to a hospital bed, he enjoyed talking about his days as a burglar.

A “good” burglar knows more about your house than you do. The car thief opens your locked car faster than you can when you have accidentally locked the keys inside the vehicle. The conman or woman can tell you such a heartbreaking story that you’ve emptied your pockets and purse before you have had time to realise that your hand and heart have moved into a response. The bully knows your strengths and weaknesses far better than you do and will know how to manipulate you so that you are shown to the greatest disadvantage.

In Rome there is an elderly woman who begs close to the Basilica of St Paul-outside-the-walls and also close to St. Peter’s.  She is a hopeless cripple outside the first, whereas she has a terrible Parkinson’s disease outside the second.  In actual fact, she is pretty healthy and can walk faster and straighter than many people half of her age. She also happens to have some fairly attractive clothes when not forced to wear her black and shapeless “widow’s weeds” as she does when begging.

It can be tough trying to be good.  There are too many people around who want to take advantage of your goodness.  The trouble is that conscience is an uncomfortable partner…..but who, in their right senses, wants to be known as someone who has no conscience?

Conscience is that little place set deep within my heart, where I encounter God. Prickly as my conscience might be, it’s a sign that God is there too.  Do I ever feel glad that I have a conscience, even if it’s inconvenient?

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