Daily Reflection
December 2nd, 1999
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
Jesuit Community
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Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalms 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27
Matthew 7:21, 24-27

It made me mad recently when Jesse the Body Ventura said in a Playboy interview something to the effect that Christians were losers.  But then, I thought, what the heck do I care what Jesse the Body or anyone else for that matter thought about me or us.  It really doesn’t make a bit of difference.  

What does make lots of difference is how committed I and we are to Christ and how I (we) show that commitment in a practical way.  Does it or doesn’t it make a difference in the world that there are Christ--ians.  Advent is a good time to answer that question.

Anne Lamott has a piece in her book, Traveling Mercies:  Some Thoughts on Faith, where she was asked by a born-again Christian if she were Christian.  She said yes, but in saying it she felt a bit awkward.  She could admit to being “Christian-ish,” as in the distinction between someone who claims to be a Jew and someone who says he/she is Jew-ish.  The Jew is the committed one; someone who was Jew-ish is somewhere in the ballpark of, but not really a committed Jew. 

She was evading the born-again’s question by telling him that she was Christian -- as if she were only committed to being Christian-ish, but not really a committed Christian.  Even though at that time she was beginning her growth in faith as an adult Christian, she felt that she was telling the man a lie by claiming that she was Christian.  She would admit only to “being in the ballpark of being Christian.”

I loved what Anne Lamott said because it reminds me of the ways that I skirt the real questions sometimes.  She truly desired to be a Christian in the fullest sense, but knew that she was only in process to becoming one.  

As I said above, this season of Advent is an excellent time to be able to do an assessment on ourselves (individuals and communities) as to how central our commitment to Christ really is in our lives.  I welcome the opportunity and only hope that my reflection these next couple of weeks can be an aid to growth in the commitment to Christ and to God.  

Both Jesse and Anne have, from the negative and positive perspectives, helped me to put the question a bit better to myself.  My prayer will be for openness to God who is my “eternal rock” as Isaiah reminds us in the first reading today and for the ability to “trust in the Lord forever” from the same reading.  

Happy Advent to all!  And may Christ come at a deeper level into our hearts.

Tom Shanahan, S.J.

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