I’ve lost count of how many weddings I’ve witnessed where this weekend’s Second Reading was chosen as part of the Liturgy of the Word. It’s so familiar to all of us; most likely as soon as the reader gets a few words into it, folks will tune out.
But you know what? I’ve always found this Reading to be a truly wonderful examination of conscience. Maybe you’ve already heard it being used the way I’m going to use it below, but even then, it’s always good to have a reminder that we’re not as sinless and perfect as we think we are. So here goes … I’ll use myself as an example:
“Herb is patient, Herb is kind. Herb is not jealous, he is not pompous. Herb is not inflated, is not rude. Herb does not seek his own interests, is not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury. Herb does not rejoice over wrong-doing, but rejoices with the truth. Herb bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Now re-read that but put your own name there. See what I mean by an examination of conscience? I think the only one that is true above is that I’m not pompous. At least I don’t think I am … others might see me differently.
Fortunately for us, though, God does not see us that way. Both the First Reading and the Psalm are lovely testimonials to the fact that we are Beloved of God, that He cares for us, nurtures us, gifts us with grace after grace, blessing after blessing, so that we can do His work in the world.
All that God needs is for us to see ourselves as we truly are. It’s the opposite of the people of Nazareth in the Gospel. They thought they were special, that they deserved preferential treatment because they were Jesus’ hometown folks. I do that … I get to thinking I’m special because I do this, that and the other thing so well. But as Paul said, if I don’t have the qualities of love it’s all wasted in terms of growing in holiness.
Love deeply, my friend!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.