Today’s readings speak about following the light. We are called to clear out our boastful, prideful, wicked, immoral, malicious ways (yes, all of these in the reading from 1 Cor 5) so that we may be clean, and led in justice to hear his voice and follow the Lord.
I find my human nature relies heavily on the sacraments and scriptures to be vigilantly clean, helping me to avoid the sins listed above. It is so easy to fall into old habits or be caught up in gossip and judgemental conversations (which, of course, leads to my being boastful or full of pride in my own virtue, nay, lack thereof). How many times have I made a snide remark, oh so cautiously said to my companions who nod in agreement with my negative comment? Would Jesus speak this way about his friends? Would God want me to attack my neighbor with little criticisms that undercut that person’s confidence or relationship with a spouse, child, co-worker or neighbor?
I can think of too many situations where I have witnessed a situation where someone in the group has been spoken to in a way that you can visibly see their confidence wither or the light in their eyes change. How many times have I neglected to speak out or intervene in the group, or go console the one affected after the fact? Does that make me the ‘goody two shoes’ or ‘girl scout,’ that I have been accused of before?. Being a bully, hurting no matter how well-intentioned the teasing may be if the recipient is hurt by it, is bullying. Unless you really know someone’s personal history, you may not be aware of what deep seeded hurt you may have unintentionally brought to mind.
Being compassionate is one of the reasons I follow Jesus. Jesus, in compassion for the man with the withered hand, healed him on the Sabbath in front of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus knew they would be angry because he broke the law (of not working on the Sabbath) to help the man who would have been viewed as unclean due to the deformity of a withered hand. He was living the new law, to love your neighbor as yourself.
Today is part of Rosh Hashanah, a ten-day period of the Days of Awe, and a time for introspection and casting out of sins in the Jewish faith. I find myself thinking of the thief at Jesus’ left hand at Gethsemane. He knew he was not worthy, yet spoke up in Jesus’ defense to his companion in crime, the thief on the right. Jesus pardoned him and told him he would join him in paradise. May each of us continue to ask for pardon when we sin and cause others to suffer or sin. May we hear the Lord’s voice and follow him as he leads us in justice, truth and light.
Beth Price is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and spiritual director who has worked in several parish ministry roles during the last 20 years. She is a proud mother of 3 adult children. Beth currently works at Diocesan. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.