Daily Reflection
October 17th, 2001
Deb Fortina
Academic Affairs
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Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch
Romans 2:1-11
Psalms 62:2-3, 6-7, 9
Luke 11:42-46

The Jews are not exempt from the retribution of God, “So no matter who you are, if you pass judgement you have no excuse.  It is yourself that you condemn when you judge others, since you behave in the same way as those you are condemning.”
          Romans 2:1-11

Hope in God alone, “…Lord you give back to every man according to his works….”
          Psalm 62:2, 3, 6, 7, 9

The Pharisees and the lawyers attacked, “But alas for you Pharisees, because you pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and neglect justice and the love of God!  These you should have practiced, without neglecting the others.…”
          Luke 11:42-46

Memorial St. Ignatius of Antioch, counting Peter, he was the third Bishop of Antioch born in Syria around the year 50; died at a martyr’s death in Rome between 98 and 117 in the Flavian amphitheater.  “He was unremitting in his vigilance and tireless in his efforts to inspire hope and to strengthen the weaklings of his flock against the terrors of the persecution.”  His soul delighted in receiving the fullness of Christian discipleship, to die a martyr’s death.  See www.newadvent.org/cathen/07644a.htm.

Memorial St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, died in 1690, was canonized in 1920.  She is known as one of the saints of the Sacred Heart, as she followed our Lord’s wishes in establishing the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour.  The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was established in 1686.  See www.catholic.org/saints/margaretmaryalacoque.html.

Today our readings speak sharply about one of our favorite pastimes, judging others.  But looking at others faults helps pass our time, and leaves little time for us to look at our own faults in order to be able to change them.  After all, nothing can get done when we are trying to change others, but if we diverted that attention to our own shortcomings, we could change a lot.  Our tempter does a good job of running interference making certain that we don’t get around to repairing our own lives.  In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says we condemn ourselves when we judge others, since we behave in the same way. 

So why do we judge others?  Someone once told me, the things we dislike the most in others, are the same things we strongly dislike in ourselves.  I remember being really surprised by that remark, as I thought about those people who irritate me, or “push my buttons.”  Still today in the moment this concept is tough to see if you’re highly agitated by someone’s actions or remarks.  

On another occasion, while on a centering prayer retreat in the fall of 1991, our retreat director, Fr. Carl Arico, described the welcoming practice.  He said, when someone is pushing your buttons, you just say “welcome” as you pause with the energy of that moment, and then you “let go” of the need you are fulfilling that created your reaction.  During the pause you realize where your reaction would have taken you; but with the pause you can redirect your energy into a healing exercise.  I never forgot the word “welcome” because it seemed like such an opposite reaction to where my energy takes me in that moment.  He said you’ve heard people say, “why, I don’t know what got into me, that just wasn’t me.”  But Fr. Carl assured us those reactions are very much a part of us.  He was always so frank.  They are a part of us until we recognize and make a change.  In that sense, these are the people that help us to become saints.  Welcome is a good word for the practice of changing your reaction to life’s “button pushers.”  

In the Gospel from Luke, I couldn’t help but think of today’s situation with Afghanistan.  When Jesus came down so hard on the Pharisee and, at the end of the reading, sited a lawyer’s guilt in laying on “unendurable” burdens, I thought of all the countries, including the US who have had business dealings with the poor countries like Afghanistan.  Would we be in this situation today, if we had paid attention to this gospel message?

Lord speak to us, your servants are listening today with different ears, or listening at a deeper level.  We continue to seek your direction, Holy Spirit convict us with your Truth.  Amen

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