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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pride

"Anyone who is so "progressive" as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God." 2 Jn 1:9

Early in the church's life there were gnostics (those in the know!), people who believed that Christ's coming in the flesh was only a first step in faith, and that there was another stage of faith that allowed some to know the "spiritual" Christ and abandon their previous beliefs.

Some people in the United States who think we have developed an economic system that is far superior to any other are dangerous, just like the gnostics of old. They reduce life to how much a person has, not how they live and behave and in doing so are not only arrogant towards others, but dismissive of them. This is hardly the Gospel message. Only when we we seek the grace to live a life of integrity and respect for ourselves and others because we are all children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus can we hope to be Good News in the world.

Today, pray to be free of the kind of pride that makes you look down on others.

Whose humble life and lifestyle has most impacted you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Looking at the Undocumented

"Perhaps this is why he (Onesimus) was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord."

Near the end of his life, St Paul writes to Philemon about Onesimus, a slave who has turned his life around in Christ, and begs Philemon to treat Onesimus as a fellow pilgrim, not as a slave. Without denying that Onesimus still belongs to Philemon by law,  Paul focuses, not on Onesimus' status as a slave but on the radical equality all people gain in Christ.

What a powerful lesson this short letter teaches. We are all one in Christ and we need to act like it. Respecting undocumented people, honoring refugees and exalting those without a voice because we are one with them in Christ proclaims that the power of faith erases all distinctions between and among Christians. Working for policies in every nation that exalt our common humanity rather than our differences because of race, gender, and ethnicity is an essential Gospel teaching.

Today, look not at another's legal status but at their rights as human persons to dignity and love.

Who has helped you see others with God's eyes?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Take Nothing for Granted

"Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"  Lk 17:17

A few weeks ago, following Hurricane Michael, people in the Florida panhandle were forced to think about basic needs and services. Not only were most of them without electricity for days, thousands of homes were destroyed and many other homes remain uninhabitable.

Unfortunately, for too many of us, it takes a storm like this to make us think about what we so often taken for granted. Learning about people without electricity and heat for days, and being unable to find gasoline for their cars makes all of us realize how dependent we are on the services which most of the time we can find anywhere, and forces us to pause in gratitude.

Jesus reminds us of this same reality. It was a foreigner, someone without a voice or a home, who returns after being healed to thank him. The clear call of the Gospel is to be thankful each day not only for the simple gifts of food, water and heat, but for life itself.

Today, thank someone who provides you with a basic service.

How do you avoid taking life's necessities for granted?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Rejecting Entitlement

"When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'" Lk 17:10

Attitude is everything and nothing gets in the way of having an authentic Christian attitude more than a sense of entitlement. When we begin to think that we have earned everything we have, even if we have worked hard all our lives, we forget how blessed we have been.

I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. People shared freely the little they had. Our parents did everything they could to send us to Catholic schools and colleges where we would have an opportunity for a better life. They did not expect much from us in return. They were happy to give us everything they had, but they did demand that we work hard, and that we be grateful, and never take for granted what came to us because of the generosity of others.

This is especially true of faith. Our attitude about faith, about what we can contribute to the building up of the body of Christ, about others who think differently than us must be one of gratitude. In fact, our faith reminds us continually that all is gift. Life is gift, creation is gift, friendship is gift, prayer is gift, and all are gifts to be given away. When Jesus sends the disciples out to proclaim good news he is clear: "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."(Mt 10:8)

Today, check your attitude and be grateful for your faith.

How do you avoid a sense of entitlement?