Reflection for Friday, November 15, 2002: 32nd week in Ordinary Time.

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O'Reilly, Daniel Patrick
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Today's scriptures are full of promise and warning. I like the promise part, but the warning always leaves me a little uneasy. John rejoices greatly "to find some of your children walking in the truth." And then John warns of "deceivers" who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. He warns that anyone who is so "progressive" as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. The psalmist proclaims that blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord. And in Luke, Jesus says that the second coming will be like the days of Noah and Sodom and that some will be ready and some will be left behind. Powerful images.|John's writing hits close to home with me. I always want to be "progressive" and then wind up marveling at how simple things are typically the best and most rewarding. Nathanael, son number six, started kindergarten this year. He is my first child to attend all-day kindergarten. I was a little concerned as to how he would handle this, so I asked him, "What is your favorite thing in kindergarten?" "Recess," he replied. Hmmm. "Okay, your second favorite?" "Nap time."|I was looking for progressive. I was thinking colors, letters, geometry. The simple things were the best. John speaks of the joy of finding children walking in the truth.|When I was young, my parents would drag me to church. I was quite resistant and resentful and Sunday mornings in the O'Reilly household were often not a Norman Rockwell picture. Now that I am a parent myself, I am grateful to my parents' persistence and I recognize the importance of the foundation in truth that they established for me. Now it's my household and me shouting "if those shoes aren't on your feet and in the van by the time I count to ten......"|When I was in my early 20's, four good friends were drawn into a religious cult. I simply did not understand. I thought cults preyed on outcasts, drug users, people who simply didn't know any better. These were my friends. The "deceiver" in this case was a man named "brother George" who was quite charming, charismatic and knew the Bible like the back of his hand. I can't tell you the number of times brother George told me that I was going to hell for not joining his group. Right or wrong, I blamed my friends' indoctrination into this cult on their lack of a religious foundation. When confronted with someone telling them that they should follow him or go to hell, they did not have the scriptural knowledge, the backing of the body of Christ or the simple knowledge of the love of Christ to help them.|It's been more than 25 years since I last saw brother George. I don't know that I've ever completely forgiven him, but I'm always working on that. What he did instill in me was a fervor for children's education in the church. I'm the elder for children's ministry in my church, I teach Sunday School and I teach a children's program on Wednesday evenings. There are so many deceivers in the world. I know I can't keep them away from children, but if I can help a child to know the love of Christ, then I've given them some armor, some protection and a foundation.|Helping a child to know God is something any of us can do. My prayer is for all of those working to educate children, that they would have God's blessing.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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