Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 422

I will prove the holiness of my great name, 
profaned among the nations, 
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.

Jesus ben Sirach echoes this passage from Ezekiel in Ecclesiasticus 36:

As you have used us to show them your holiness, so now use them to show us your glory. Thus they will know, as we know, that there is no God but you.
"King Solomon," the Divine Author of Wisdom, says we should shine like sparks in stubble. Jesus wants us to gleam like a lamp in a dark room and stand out like a city on a hill. 

For Christians who want nothing more than to conform, blend in and disappear in the crowd, that's a tall order. 
Can a disciple of Jesus be modest and outstanding, subtle and overt? 

But that's the wrong question. All of these remarks by Old and New Testament authors consider the Church, not the individual Christian. The Lord is not speaking to me but to us when he writes, "I prove my holiness through you." (The first requirement of Baptism is, "Get over yourself!") 

Who are we? How do we appear to others? We worship God. We care for one another. We care for others.

The minister of Baptism during a Catholic ritual begins by asking, "What name do you give this child?" 

One's name is one's identity. It is the name by which we will call this beloved youngster into family, with all its privileges, pleasures and duties. It is not just a handle by which government and other organizations will manage the individual. 

I come to know myself as a member of this family and church. All these people in the congregation are my brothers and sisters. When the Lord speaks to us, he speaks to me. When the Lord proves his holiness through us, he works through me. 

A lot of baptized people leave the Church. During their "exit interviews" they'll blame the Church for its failures. The current, most favorite story is the priest pedophilia scandal. Before that it was "the changes." Occasionally, they blame the birth control controversy. Most often, the real issue is the Church's teaching about divorce and remarriage. 

They rarely say, "I could not live up to the expectations." Even less often they say, "I refused the grace of my baptism." or, "I chose not to bear the cross of Christ." 

Jesus explained it quite simply, "Many are called, few are chosen." 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.