Daily Reflection
November 8th, 2007

Barbara Dilly

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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I’m getting old enough now to be considered a confidant for the older people in my family who are reflecting on their long lives and trying to make sense of them. I’ve been around long enough to know a lot about their lives in terms of their successes, their struggles, and their faithfulness to God. It is interesting to me that some of them have no bitterness against anyone and yet others have grown very judgmental. Those who are not judgmental also do not seem to fear death as much as those who are embittered about the sins of others. Some just want to remember the good times, and they have lots of them. Others spend a lot of time comparing their lives to others who didn’t measure up so well. They are critical of those who failed at business or marriage, drank or gambled, or fell away from the church. And they are afraid that even their own lives won’t measure up to God’s judgment and they fear death.

The lessons for today speak to me of this basic difference in how we as believers see our own lives and the lives of others. Some of us are more mindful of our life in the Lord as something lovely to contemplate and others of us seem to lack the courage to “see the good things of the Lord.” Some of us can better accept the sin in others because we know that Christ died and came to life for us and for our brothers and sisters. I learn much from listening to these people reflect on the good things in life. They face death with the assurance that they will continue to dwell in the house of the Lord. But some of us are afraid to accept even our own salvation. We see only the sin in others because we are burdened by the sin in ourselves. I pray most for those of us who are more focused on judgment than salvation.

Jesus reminds us in the parable of the tax collectors and sinners that he will constantly seek out those who are lost. Further, we are to rejoice with the angels of God over their repentance. I’ve shared this Gospel story as well as many other stories of God’s love and grace with elderly or terminally ill family members as I have prayed with them. And while they listen with hope and faith, for some, the fears and judgment keep returning. As I reflect on the readings for today, what I have learned from listening to older people is that we should begin early in life to develop the habits of not judging our brothers and sisters. If we learn to see the good things of the Lord and not the sins of others, I think it will make it a lot easier to wait more courageously for the Lord. And today, I am thankful for the angels of God who rejoice for the sinners among us, including myself, who repent.

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