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Christ in the Nitty-Gritty
Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise, your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Opening Prayer: My God, I come before you seeking to know and love you more deeply. I trust you; help me deepen my trust. I want to live my life attentive to your call and presence. Lord, I ask that you help me grow in my surrender and fidelity.
1. Awareness: Jesus is with us in all the realities of our daily life, but we aren’t always aware of his presence. It’s a bit like the old joke in which someone prayed for a parking place and when one opened up, she said, “Never mind; I’ve found one.” Learning to see God’s presence in the people around us and the circumstances of our daily life is key to knowing God’s will for our lives. In his Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales wrote:
I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl, and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation, and to the duties of each one in particular. Tell me, please, my Philothea, whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbor.
How can we better see Jesus in the realities of our daily life and embrace all that he allows as a foundational means of growth in holiness?
2. Signs of the Times: Our world is fraught with conflict and division—school shootings, political upheaval, etc. We can be tempted to consider the world’s problems overwhelming and do nothing. Yet, as Christians we are called to interpret the times and prayerfully discern how we can help. We know that prayer is a powerful weapon against evil, as is our personal holiness. We can carry our own personal crosses and embrace them as Jesus embraced the Father’s will. God speaks to us through these circumstances. He asks us to trust that our crosses are a means for good in our lives and the lives of others even though they are painful and involve sacrifice. And sometimes we are called to address societal issues head-on. “People say, ‘What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words, and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do” (Dorothy Day).
3. Working for Justice: Christ tells us to use our judgment to apply his teachings to our reality. Seeing Christ in our neighbor and serving him requires “respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him” (CCC 1929). Social justice requires that society “provides the conditions that allow… individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation” (CCC 1928). The Catechism stresses that “everyone should look upon his neighbor (without exception) as ‘another self’ (CCC 1932), and “This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us…” (CCC 1933). In justice we look upon others, even those very different from us, as other Christs and seek peace and reconciliation where possible.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus you never tired of calling those who were separated from you by their lifestyle or their misunderstanding of the faith to friendship with you. You saw them and their differences in thoughts and behavior, and you loved them. Lord, sometimes I shy away from those who believe or act differently from what I think is right. It’s so much easier to be with those who are like me. Help me Lord to be another Christ to everyone I encounter in my life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will read the overview the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching | USCCB and discern how to apply them to my life.
For Further Reflection: Pray through this Examination of Conscience in Light of Catholic Social Teaching | USCCB.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.