It was Abraham Joshua Heschel, that wise and weary soul, who said:
"The Jew's greatest sin is to forget that he is the son of a king."
Since reading that quote, I’ve wondered several times if that might not be a Mormon’s greatest sin as well.
We forget who we are.
More than once I’ve heard a person say that Mormon temples resemble castles.
Well, why not?
They are, after all, the dwellings of the King of Kings.
And they are places where members of the church go to be reminded — in word, and style — that they are children of royalty.
I’ve often wondered how overwhelming that thought must feel to a destitute member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in, say, Bolivia.
He is on the bottom rung of society.
He doesn’t have enough money to buy beans.
He works jobs no slave would do.
And yet, in the LDS temple, he is told that he is a royal child in peasant's clothing.
He is, in fact, the prince, not the pauper.
He must feel astonished.
In fact, perhaps that sense of astonishment he feels is what everyone should feel in a temple.
The kingdom is ours.
But if we do have such feelings there, we often leave them behind us in the building.
Joseph and Mary forgot Jesus and left him in the temple.
How often do the rest of us do the same thing?
As Heschel says, we forget who we are.
We have all seen those photos of England’s Prince Harry in Las Vegas. He did things that were beneath him and ended up embarrassing his family and the kingdom. He simply refused to remember his responsibilities. Like little Simba in “The Lion King,” Prince Harry hooked up with some easygoing buddies and conveniently forgot his identity.
Many of us scoffed at him at the time. There he was, a possible heir to the throne, behaving like an immature frat boy.
But, truth to tell, don’t most of us do the same thing on a spiritual level?
Don’t we forget we are — in Heschel’s words — children of royalty?
Fortunately young Harry, like Simba, has apparently come to his senses and — with some prodding from Grandma — has now accepted his role and who he was born to be.
Here’s hoping there will be similar wake-up calls ahead for me when I slip into silliness.
Here’s hoping you get one or two such reminders as well.