Daily Reflection
September 9th, 2004
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
Registrar's Office
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The scriptures today are an interesting mix.  They speak to me about contrasting things, all of which challenge me.  Paul speaks to the Corinthians about sin.  Somethings I do may not seem to be a sin, but what if it causes my brother to sin?  The psalmist praises God who created us.  And in Luke, Jesus....  well, Jesus turns the world upside down.

The first two scriptures are quite challenging to me.  I, like the psalmist, believe I am created by God.  I believe that I am a unique and beloved creation.  I believe with all my heart that God is the creator.  Periodically, I run into people who do not agree.  It sometimes turns into the tired, old creation vs. evolution argument.  I have found that there are fanatics on both sides of this argument and sometimes I fall into the trap and become one of them.  After one rather heated argument, I asked myself the question Paul presents to the Corinthians.  Was I a stumbling block to my brother?  Was I causing my brother to sin?  The person I was arguing with did not believe in God.  In my vehemence, was I driving him further from a relationship with God?  Was I the stumbling block?  How do I balance defending my faith and not becoming a stumbling block to those around me?  I don’t know that I have the answer, but I need to keep that question in front of me.
This morning I saw some yellow leaves dotting my green lawn.  A sure sign that fall is coming.  I love the change of seasons.  It’s the only change I can think of that I love.  I am a stick in the mud.  I do not like change.  I sometimes envision myself as the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, trying to hold back the flood of change.  I am married to a woman who embraces change seemingly for the sake of change.  Sometimes it makes me crazy.  She is the idea person in our relationship.  Sometimes I greet her ideas with doubt, resistance or fear.  She drags me kicking and screaming out of my comfortable rut and yet, in retrospect, she usually has great ideas.

I cannot imagine being one of the disciples listening to Christ.  You’ve been following Jesus for sometime now.  You know he is special.  And then he lays this on you?  Love your enemy?  Bless those who curse you?  Turn the other cheek?  Give to people who won’t pay you back?  What?  I must have heard Jesus wrong.  Could you please repeat that?  This is so contrary to what I am used to.  It is the complete opposite of what the world teaches.  This is too much change.  It seems an impossible challenge. This does not make sense.  Or does it?  Christ promises great reward to those who can follow these commands.  When we forgive we will be forgiven.  When we give, we will receive.  We will be children of the Most High.  Our reward will be great.

I think of the land where Christ spoke these words.  The conflict in the middle east is horrible.  An incredible cycle of hatred and violence.  Suicide bombers.  Assassinations.  Vengeance and revenge.  An eye for an eye.  I sometimes shake my head and wonder how it will ever end.  Christ understands.  It will not end with conventional wisdom.  It will not end with normal, worldly thinking.  It will require someone who can turn the world upside down.  Someone with a heart for or like Christ’s.  It is an incredible challenge to hear Christ’s words and not simply dismiss them as impossible.  With God all things are possible.

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