I am a cradle-Catholic – meaning baptized ten days after birth and raised in a household that practiced the faith. Baptism was a seed of my Catholic faith that sprung up from time to time; it seemed to die off and even lay dormant other times. I’m no great scholar or saint today but because God planted it within my heart, it produced new life when I finally took the time to care for it.
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. Exert from Matthew 13:54-58
I know the evil one is always tempting humankind. Why else would these townspeople be excited about the wisdom and mighty deeds of Jesus one minute and be offended by him the next? Especially since they knew him! Pride, selfishness and envy cause us to do things that aren’t charitable or kind. We compare our relationship with God to that of another’s. We often don’t take the time to just praise God for the faith we’ve received or that we see in others. It starts the stinkin’ thinking: if I don’t measure up with this person, or if they do things in a way I think they should/shouldn’t, well, let’s just get rid of her (or ignore, make fun of, judge, criticize, envy).
I had an experience just this morning in church. Randomly distracted during Mass, I started comparing myself to another – wondering – was I right and obedient in my choice of how to worship or was she? I stopped myself almost immediately! Why did that come into my thoughts? Likely because I took my eyes off of Jesus. Thankfully, the next thought was reminding me not to compare but to seek and remember the peace I had in what I chose. I needed to focus back on the present moment with God instead of looking over my shoulder for trouble and temptation. Funny thing is, later on in the morning, I got a call from that same person. She just wanted me to know how much she appreciated our friendship. We think God’s not watching our every move and then like this morning, Bam! He came shining through with my friends phone call to let me know to be still, stay close and keep my eyes on him. I feel so doubly blessed by God and my friend!
Help me Jesus, find my focus, thoughts and actions that serve you and not myself. Show me how to follow you without questioning your ways or seeking to keep up with others. I know my walk with you is just that – mine – and everyone’s walk will be different. Different is good – you customize it down to the number of hairs on our heads, steps we’ve taken and surrender to your will. I lay it down before you Jesus, my worries, concerns, and even my joys. I give you my time, talents and treasures because I trust in you. Do with me what you will to give praise and glorify to your name, now and forever. Amen
Above photo credit: Jesus and the Pharisees By James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008, 00.159.209_PS2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10904550