How Can I Become an Authentic Friend?

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Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

 

Matthew 23:27-32

Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

 

Opening Prayer: Psalm 139

You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Where can I go from your spirit?
    From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall hide me,
    and night shall be my light”–
For you darkness itself is not dark,
    and night shines as the day.

You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

Encountering Christ:

 

  1. “You Hypocrites”: Jesus mentions the word “hypocrite” seven times in this chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. He is deeply concerned that we will not find ourselves living a life of hypocrisy. Jesus is not scandalized by sin and imperfection, but he does speak clearly about the scourge of hypocrisy. Why? He knows how much a divided life can hurt and destroy us, and he doesn’t want to see us hurting ourselves and others in this way. He created us to be beautiful, not only on the outside but on the inside too. He wants to restore our inner unity.
  2. Living an Authentic Life: The opposite of hypocrisy is authenticity, sincerity, honesty, and integrity—living a life that flows from inner truths and convictions. Jesus longs for us to be authentic and true to ourselves. He wants leaders in our families, in our communities, and in the church to be men and women of integrity who are deeply rooted in their relationship with him and make wise choices based on their faith. This doesn’t mean he asks us to be perfect and sinless. But it does demand making time with him a priority, so we can receive the grace to live as he did. He wants us to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory,” as St. Paul preaches to the Thessalonians. 
  3. Are We Allowing Grace to Transform Us?: Jesus wants authentic friends. To be a Christian means to seek a relationship with God. We are invited to allow God’s grace to penetrate our hearts and minds so that we are transformed into him. To be Christian means to be his. We will always feel the tug of our fallen nature to give in to hypocrisy and insincerity, but it is in those times that Jesus wants us to call out to him and rely on his grace through the power of prayer and the sacraments. 

 

Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to be a true friend, but you know how hard it is for me to make wise choices and decisions. Please make your presence felt throughout my day, in the times I set aside for prayer, and in the encounters I have with others in my family, school, or work. How much I need your grace! Yet, I need your friendship even more. Come with me now as I leave this time of prayer to begin my day. 

 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will think of your eyes upon me. 

 

For Further Reflection: Reflect on the first reading for the day: an image of who an authentic friend of Christ is, one who leads others into the kingdom: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13.

Lisa Small was consecrated to God within Regnum Christi in 2001, is the Communications Director for the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi in North America, and is the National Formation Director for the Regnum Christi Mission Corps.

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