Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
August 23rd, 2011
Alex Rödlach

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time
[426] 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Psalm 139:1-3, 4-6
Matthew 23:23-26

Recently, I spoke with a man who was told by his supervisor to identify three workers in his division who are not essential for the production process and whose contracts could be terminated. He was deeply troubled by what he was asked to do, because he knew all his co-workers personally – it is a small family-owned company – and he has worked with them for years. He was also aware of the disastrous consequences for those who are told that they cannot continue to work for the firm: they and their households will face economic and other hardships as a result of his decision. We can all understand how difficult it was for this man to follow his supervisor’s order. He prayed over it, asked for God’s guidance, consulted the Holy Scriptures, discussed the question with others in confidential settings, and then did what he had to do.

Fortunately, we do not often have to take such heavy decisions, but we often have to make choices in our life which are difficult. In such decision-making situations, superficial guidelines and thoughts are not really helpful. We need to reflect over the pertinent issues in the light of our basic values and commitments, of what drives and motivates us, which is ultimately our faith. Relationship problems, issues with raising our children, unethical business strategies at our workplace, questionable government policies, and so on need to be confronted with the guiding light of the Gospel and its values.

Yet, sometimes our faith can be shallow and would not be of much use in finding guidance. In today’s Gospel, Jesus criticizes religious leaders because they were more concerned with issues important for the religious organization, such as tithing, and neglected the more important aspects of faith, for instance, being merciful. While matters sustaining the church as an organization are important, the core values of our faith should always be our priority. Anything else is just window-dressing, which would not be able to sustain our faith and guide and strengthen us in doing what is right. Ultimately, our church will also suffer if we do not emphasize her central values.

While Christ reminds us in today’s Gospel to follow the central values of our faith in order to have guidance in our day-to-day decisions, Saint Paul teaches us in the first reading of today how we should put into practice our decisions. Whatever we decide to do should be done in an attitude of loving care. He compares himself in his ministry with a nursing mother caring for her children. There is not a more powerful image of care than that of a nursing mother! He continues saying that he not only shared the Gospel with such affection but his very self. Such a giving of ourselves should characterize how we put into action our decisions.

Let us pray that our faith is centered on the core values of our religion, such as mercy and the preferential love for the marginalized.

Let us pray for guidance in deciding every day what is the right thing to do.

Let us pray for loving care in whatever we do.
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