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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Empty Praise

"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” Lk 6:26

In recent years in the United States, many people, especially parents, work very hard to support their children by praising them for the simplest tasks. A quick look at Facebook will confirm this. A recent post read: Congratulations to my amazing son who graduated from kindergarten today. Again, a big hug to my wonderful daughter as she continues to change the world.  Although these remarks are innocent and heartfelt, one wonders whether they tell the whole story.

All of us have faults. All of us sin, and when we fail to acknowledge or accept this in ourselves or others, we risk ignoring or denying the reality of life as it unfolds, and harm ourselves and those who need us to help them repent and renew their lives. In other words, we need to be prophets. Prophets listened closely to God and, though it was difficult for them, warned the people of Israel that they were straying from God's path. They told the truth despite the cost.

In Luke's beatitudes, Jesus warns his listeners to take everything said about them with a grain of salt. Though parents may not be trying to manipulate their children or make up for a hurt they caused, words of praise can fill our heads and hearts with a fullness that is not of God or good for us. Life is about conversion, not basking in the empty praise of others but being grateful for the gift of each. Overwhelming praise, when taken too seriously, can compromise our ability to see or tell the truth and trap us in a world of make believe. When this happens our baptismal call to be priest, prophet and king gets lost in the muck of dishonesty about ourselves and others.

Today, ask Go for the gift of honesty with yourselves and others.

Do you want help to see the truth in yourself and address it?

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