Reflection for Friday, February 5, 2021: 4th Week in Ordinary Time.

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Latta, Mark
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|The first reading today provides a discerning reader a series of guiding principles that at first glance seem like a list of 'rules' but include some truths that endure across generations of believers. Indeed, in today's chaotic world these truths give us a path to follow as Christians when many may feel increasingly at the margins of society.|The first, and foundational truth, is love-- especially the brotherly love that is required for building community. As a family of believers, we must not let our day-to-day differences interfere with nurturing that which binds us together. The external dimension of love must incent us to not isolate ourselves as members of a distinct tribe but show love to strangers through hospitality. What a powerful image the writer presents in suggesting that this action may lead to unknowingly hosting angels! Indeed, we should resist the temptation to fear 'the other'.|The second truth is to show concern, in thought and deed, in times of stress. We are to show compassion in the sense of showing our unity of suffering with others.|The third truth is to show fidelity because faithlessness, in all dimensions,  undermines the foundation of community.|A songwriter has written "it's not about having what you want, it's about wanting what you have." The fourth truth in reflecting this kind of sentiment is to encourage us to exhibit a freedom from the love of worldly riches and be focused on the external gifts given freely by God.|The last truth from this passage is encouraging loyalty and constancy to our faith. The best example of faithfulness is our Savior Jesus who "is the same yesterday and today and forever" (13:8).|We strive to stay true to these truths from a sense of hope and indeed confidence that through God's freely given grace we become transformed each day and strengthened to live according to His will for us.|As we strive to honor these truths we can learn from the graphic story of Herod and John the Baptist revealed in the Gospel reading. Herod heard the call of the Holy Spirit in his being drawn to listen to John's teachings. John's call to repentance created conflict in Herod's spirit and Herod's final rejection of John's call, and the tragic result, should be a reminder to us not to delay in responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us embrace that call today and seek to live the truths reflected in the reading from Hebrews.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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