Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. “Do not let me hear again” you said “the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die”; and the Lord said to me, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”’
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.
Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.
“… for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes”
This year, we have to do better, try harder, be better versions of ourselves. I’m not saying this because it’s January, and in January we make resolutions that are broken in March. I say this because I agreed to become a sponsor to a young mother looking to receive her Rite of Confirmation this year. I almost said no because what a huge responsibility that is! I see her looking at me and I find myself second guessing my thoughts and actions. It is as if someone has suddenly shone a light on me and made me feel more accountable, certainly more aware that I have an accountability to God. My faith is something I sometimes take for granted. Her request of me has been a potent reminder that it should not be the case. All I do, all I say, is testament to my faith, and I ought to safeguard it better.
People want leadership that inspires, that is authentic, that they can believe in. Most people just think of themselves and what’s in it for them. So few people actually think about how they can serve to be good examples, how they can make things better for others. The Hebrews were looking for an inspirational example and they did not find it in the self-serving Pharisees. People today are looking for inspirational examples too – will they find it in us? In this new year, 2018, maybe we could all try to be that better version of ourselves, the ones we think we are in our heads, but know we fall short of in our hearts. We are all flawed but the heart can aspire and pray for God’s infinite grace to help us to bridge that gap. Where is the fault in trying?
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the self-awareness and good judgement to be credible witnesses to our faith.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the opportunities that God gives us to be better versions of ourselves. He is truly a God of second chances.