Thursday, February 03, 2011

Jesus Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

February 4, 2011
Friday in the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 3:7-8)

The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1)

(Herod’s wife’s) daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. (Mark 6:22-27)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. (Reinhold Niebuhr)

The Washington Post recently reported the percentage of native-born Muslims in the United States is expected to rise from 35 percent today to 45 percent in 2030.

“Does that mean more and more Christians will suffer being persecuted terribly in that year?” one of my cousins posted on his Facebook page.

I sighed. My cousin and I have very different political and religious views. But it’s not even the difference in our views that bothered me as much as the conclusion he reached. I thought, well, not a surprise coming from him, and moved on.

A few hours later, however, another of our cousins responded: “For the most part, people are just people, regardless of their religion. Don’t let the zealots sour you on a whole people.”

And I felt ashamed. Here I’d let something I found offensive go by without a public or private comment, and another relative had stated what I believe in non-threatening, non-combative language.

It’s easy to do that, isn’t it? We become like Herod, not exactly comfortable with a situation, but afraid to look foolish in the eyes of others. That failure to speak up can have small consequences, as in my case, or large, as in the case of Herod putting to death a man he consider righteous and holy or the case of those who felt uneasy about the actions of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.

Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He gave us that advice two thousand years ago, when it wasn’t popular or easy to love those who look or act or think differently. He asks no less of us today—or tomorrow.

Pray for guidance so that the next time you are put in an uncomfortable situation, you may speak up in a loving way, willing to accept the consequences.