The Moral Bucket List speaks of two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral, whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of love? Our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many people are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.
The Lord’s Prayer gives us our agenda for action in this world. Everything we need to say about who God is, who we are and who we hope to become is contained in this one prayer. St. Theresa of Avila advised her novices: “Pray the Our Father but take an hour to pray it.”
What good is it if the whole world thinks I am an honest person, but I know myself to be a liar? What is the purpose of projecting the image of a faithful husband and loving father, a faithful wife and loving mother when deep in your heart you know it is not true? Good reputation and good character are not synonymous terms. Reputation is only what people think you are; character is what you know you are.
I don’t think Jesus had fond affection or warm fuzzy feelings in mind when he spoke about love. This misconception is what makes this commandment seem so unrealistic. I doubt that Jesus had a warm feeling for the money changers in the temple or for the Pharisees who were always harassing him. We must shift our thinking from our emotions to our will. Regardless how I feel toward that person, I will, as a matter of principle seek his/her highest good. I will not stoop to hatred, I will not seek revenge; and if I ever find the opportunity, I will do my best to help, and that includes my enemies.
When you and I are hurt by the actions of others, can we find ways to respond creatively rather than striking out? When we do this, we live in the spirit of Jesus rather than the violent “eye for an eye” spirit of this world. We need to remember that evil deeds do not arise out of hearts filled with joy and peace, but out of hearts suffering with anxiety, inadequacy, jealousy, hatred or any of a thousand maladies. May we be people of healing in our homes and communities.
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time –
Our faith does not take the mystery out of life. But our faith does provide us with truth and the power and strength for daily living. We do not know the mysteries of life, but like the farmer we prepare the ground, plant the seed and allow God’s goodness to water it and give it the sun which it needs to grow, going to bed and getting up day after day trusting in the Lord. We really walk by faith and not by sight.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary –
A single glance at humanity reveals how deeply we are divided into competing and conflicting individuals and groups. Our divisions run along many different lines; race, religion, culture, economics, education, temperament, and lifestyles. You name it. All the things that make us different could also make us interesting and useful to one another. We are the losers when we concentrate only on that which makes us different.
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus –
The human heart is both repository and wellspring. Today we pray that nothing, but goodness may be treasured in our hearts; that from our hearts may flow out to all a living spring of healing, enhancing love; that our hearts may become like that of Christ, mindful that our vocation is to incarnate that love of Christ, to make it visible, to make it tangible.
Many people conform to existing standards of right, but never stop to ask whether the standards themselves are right. To keep the rules of our society is a good thing. But as followers of Jesus, that is not enough. To be respectable is not enough. We must go that second mile; we must be better than just average.
St. Ephrem –
Laws are necessary as guidelines for our good. However, Jesus knew that there is a higher law of love. Whenever there was a conflict between the letter of the law and the law of love, Jesus always chose love. He healed on the Sabbath, ate with prostitutes and sinners and tax collectors and touched a leper in order to heal him and all of these were forbidden by the law. Living in the Spirit of Jesus, we are subject to the law of love. We are not saved through obedience to the law. We are saved through Jesus Christ.