Reflection for Monday, November 8, 2004: 32nd week in Ordinary Time.

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O'Reilly, Daniel Patrick
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On first read, today's scriptures are pretty discouraging. Paul lists out a long list of criteria to be a bishop. Not only do I have to be a saint, but my children have to be saints. Scratch me from the bishop list. And in Luke, Jesus says if I cause a child to sin, it would be better for me to have a millstone around my neck and be tossed into the sea. I am not perfect. I am a human being. I say and do stupid things. I cannot live up to these ideals. The psalmist sings that we are a people who long to see God's face.|On second read, the scripture seems to me to be about words. The old saying goes that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Wrong. Words are incredibly powerful. Words are positive and they are negative. Words can lift up and they can smash down. Words can plant seeds of hope and they can plant seeds of fear. I had two examples recently where the power of words was demonstrated. Our Wednesday children's church program was scheduled recently to travel to a farm for a hayrack ride, bonfire and dinner. It sounded like a wonderful time and I was looking forward to it. I was approached by a mother of two young children in our program who wanted to know how we could guarantee their safety. I assured her that there would be lots of adults and we would be watching the children closely. She was very concerned that it would be after dark and a child could easily wander into the woods. I told her we would take every precaution to insure the safety of the children. However, she had planted a seed in my head and fear took over. I went from looking forward to the event to almost dreading the event. I was hoping it would rain and the event would be canceled. As it turned out, the outing was a wonderful experience, for both children and adults.|Jesus assures us that God loves us and tells us that we should not worry. Easier said than done. In another episode I was simply putting dishes away. A cup fell out of the cupboard and broke. I thought my wife had put it there and I said some unkind things about her. I assumed that I was alone. I turned to see my sixth grade son doing homework at the kitchen table. The expression on his face told me he had heard me. I am a firm believer that one of the best things I can do for my children is to love their mother. I wanted so much to take my words back, but that cannot be done. There is so much negativity in the world. How do we counteract it? How do we avoid being infected by it? Paul, the psalmist and Christ all show us the way. Be an encourager. Speak words that build people up.|Paul speaks lovingly to Titus. He encourages him and gives him instructions on spreading the faith. The psalmist sings praises to God the creator. And Jesus encourages. Christ warns that things that cause sin are inevitable. Be on your guard. If someone sins, you should let them know it. However, if they repent, you have to forgive. Over and over. Christ tells us if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing is impossible. My prayer today would be that I could give and receive words of encouragement. That I would trust God and not worry about things. That I would help someone to hear Christ's words of encouragement. It seems like a tough task, but Christ tells us that with just a little faith, anything can be done.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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