Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. And remember that every atom of hate we add to this world makes it still more inhospitable. (Etty Hillesum)
The Gospel today reminds us of the Christian bottom line—clear and simple: treat others in the way we want to be treated. Ever so straightforward and ever so difficult. We’re told it’s not about the easy relationships at all. Of course we’re good to those whom we love and who love us back. We are asked to love as God loves, defying our expectations of utilitarian returns. We are asked to see others with compassion. Why? Because God sees us with infinite compassion. While last week we spoke of the importance of small steps in goodness that are expanded by God, similarly, this Sunday Paul tells us that God works through his weakness. We can have faith that our personal and communal efforts towards a better world are effective. If I were that person who angers me, disgusts me, or is completely alien to me, how would I want to be treated???
If I were my estranged relative? If I were homeless? If I were from Afghanistan?
But just as we first change ourselves to change our environment, so too, we must be compassionate with ourselves to be able to recognize goodness around us: forgive ourselves for our failings, as God forgives us, to be able to forgive others to treat them as we would want to be treated. This is often harder than it sounds. But we take small steps, knowing that we may fall again and again. As long as we keep taking steps and helping each other up along the way.
Week 1: meatless day
Week 2: reducing our use of plastics
This week: For a week, note what you buy. Review your consumer habits by asking yourself these questions:
Do I really need what I bought?
Where was it made? Are the workers there treated fairly? Can I find out?
Could I buy this locally made?
Is it made with sustainable material?
Is it reusable or recyclable or compostable?
Did I buy it from a large chain store or from a local businessperson?
Might my purchase have negative or positive repercussions? Why?
These are just some of the questions we can ask ourselves to determine if a purchase is ethical or not. It is difficult to live ethically in our society where we are conditioned by popular media to continually want to buy more things, whatever the cost to others and the environment. The first step is always awareness. Ask for help whenever you would like more information. We are better together and we are deeply loved. Let’s keep up our steps towards a better world.
“Dear sister, dear brother, never be discouraged. Are you tempted to feel you were a mistake? God tells you, “No, you are my child!” Do you have a feeling of failure or inadequacy, the fear that you will never emerge from the dark tunnel of trial? God says to you, “Have courage, I am with you.” He does this not in words, but by making himself a child with you and for you. In this way, he reminds you that the starting point of all rebirth is the recognition that we are children of God… This is the undying heart of our hope, the incandescent core that gives warmth and meaning to our life. Underlying all our strengths and weaknesses, stronger than all our past hurts and failures, or our fears and concerns about the future, there is this great truth: we are beloved sons and daughters. God’s love for us does not, and never will, depend upon us. It is completely free love.” (Pope Francis)