It is impossible to say something nice about an individual and something not so nice. We are either friends with each other or not. This is pretty much how human relationships work. When we talk about each other in a positive way, it shows that there is some sort of relationship with each other, either as an acquaintance or a friend. When we talk about others in a negative way, then it shows that there is no relationship there, maybe just animosity.
Jesus always showed us how to treat others with dignity and respect. It is the way to help them experience the care and concern of God for them. If we want to be called his faithful followers, then we have to follow the example he has set for us. As his Body, we are invited and challenged to help make the kingdom of God a reality for all those we meet. The kingdom recognizes that each of us is equal in the eyes of God, and we must treat each other in the same way.
A millstone is a large round, heavy stone. If it were placed around one’s neck, it would cause the person to walk bent over until the individual eventually fell to the ground. It is a reminder that our lives have to reflect the values that Jesus gave us rather than the values of the world. Jesus is telling us that the example we give to others will either help them or hinder them from experiencing God in their lives. If we want to be credible witnesses of the Lord, then our lives should radiate what the message of the Gospels are about. The Gospels, and all the letters in the New Testament, talk about conversion to the way of the Lord and the new life he offers us all.
With all the negativity in the world and in the church, we have to stand for something different. By our example we have to show the world that the way of the Lord is the only way for us as Catholics and Christians to live. With all that has happened in our church, it is even more important that we stand for something different that reflects the dignity and respect that God has given to all of us. Or else, what can happen is that we fall into the pit of despair and hopelessness, willing to give up because the problems seem too vast and extensive.
Only good can overcome evil. And if we are faithful to the Lord, then our lives will radiate his presence, love and goodness to all we meet. This doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but what other choice do we have if we want to be his disciples? Even Jesus had difficulty with the Pharisees and scribes, but their hard heartedness didn’t prevent him from bringing them to the love of the Father. They didn’t make it easy for him, but he never wavered from that intimate relationship he had with the Father to offer them something different and better.
As we move from September to October, we know the time of daylight is getting shorter while the nights are getting longer. As we pay attention to the changing of the season, we should also pay attention to the serious issues of helping others discover the wonder that Jesus is for all of us.
~ FR. JOE