Wednesday of Week 21 in Ordinary Time
2 Thes 3:6-10,16-18
You know how you are supposed to imitate us
Since Sunday, our readings and gospels have been so full. One central theme can be captured in these two verses:
“His judgments are insearchable…” – we are so far removed from knowing or understanding God.
“…for you are like whitewashed tombs…” – we are hypocrites focused on the wrong thing, ourselves.
You’ve probably heard the line, “Ask your teenager, they know everything.” As well as the anecdote that as we grow older, our parents become smarter! Every decade, I look back on my life and realize that I wasn’t as smart, as put together –- or as lost, as I thought I was at the time. Since my mid 40s, I’ve become less critical of others and less adamant (especially at work) that my way was the best way to do anything. Because of my continued bible studies and so much personal reading to better my knowledge and understanding of our Catholic faith, the world, other people and cultures, I look deeper for truth, beauty and goodness in everything. I pray each day that I will be merciful, forgiving and look to serve others. Since God is in all created things, I know that the goodness of God can always be found.
We only KNOW truth as God reveals it to us, and most of us don’t NOTICE the truth. We don’t know ourselves, we do not know others and we certainly do know or understand the Creator. We, in our pride, are clueless. We think we know our neighbor (and all their faults) quite well, yet we have no idea of our own true self, much less God. Truth, beauty and goodness. We don’t recognize these virtues much these days. They aren’t flashy. We don’t seem to own them. We are too busy criticizing others and polishing our Mercedes or Jaguar in front of others in the hopes of being thought of as ‘someone important’.
We seem to be living nearly every second of our life as the Emperor in his ‘new clothes’. We recite certain scripture to justify our actions, or lack thereof. “Those who don’t work don’t eat”, so we give less, if anything at all, from our surplus, certainly not from the ‘top’. After all, “I work hard for MY money, I will not give it to that lazy person who doesn’t have a job.” How does this attitude conform with the Beatitudes, Jesus’ own words, His commandment to us? Jesus said, “…to those who have been given more, much will be expected”. As Catholics, don’t we realize we have ‘more’? Are we living as His hands and feet? Or are we living as Judas?
Today’s first reading shares that those who don’t work, shouldn’t eat. But that has been taken out of context (at least in ‘Christian’ America), and sadly, we seem to live in a way that reflects the opposite of Jesus –- we are not merciful, forgiving nor serving; we are looking to be ‘bigger’ so that we are SERVED. We criticize those who don’t work. Yes, some people are trying to work the system and make money for not working, but Christ didn’t say love your ‘working’ neighbour, your ‘honest’ neighbour, your ‘good’ neighbour. We all know he said ‘love your neighbour’ and ‘love your enemies’.
It is so easy (and fun and funny) for us to criticize others, to criticize the ‘them’ who have less. Yet Oswald Chambers tells us, “God never gives us discernment that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” In America, I find that it is a natural pastime, a hobby to constantly criticize, especially on social media. We criticize people, places, things, leaders, countries, customs, traditions, our family, neighbours, coworkers, politicians, athletes, celebrities… the list is endless. In our pride, we show others how smart we are with our biting words. Even we Catholic Christians reprimand, intelligently dismiss, mock and laugh at others in a superior manner. Yet in Phil 4:8 we are instructed, “whatever is true… honorable… just… pure… lovely… gracious, if there is any excellence, think about these things.” And in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” And yet, we do the opposite.
Where in scripture does Christ criticize? Even with the prostitute, he says to the hypocritical crowd, “let you who have not sinned throw the first stone”. He doesn’t even call out the crowd for their sins, he asks for mercy on the sinner. Even on the cross, Jesus asks not for mercy for himself, but for those who drove the nails.
(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: Father of all truth, all beauty and all goodness, how amazed we are at your love for us. All that our eyes can see, all that our mind can imagine is but a drop in the ocean to You. There is no AWE except in you. All beauty, all goodness and all truth begin and end with You.
Thanksgiving: Father God, we sit in thankful amazement at all that you have put at our feet.
I really appreciate your reflection shining a light on those overlooked parts of my daily life… Sometimes I forget that I look at things with too critical and eye. I forget that we are called to be merciful, loving, kind like our Lord. Thank you for your heartfelt words.