Reflections for Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Malachi 1:14–2:2,8-10; Psalm 131:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9,13; Matthew 23:1-12)

Treating Others with Dignity and Respect 

Have we not all the one father? (Malachi 2:10)

With one simple question, the prophet Malachi gets to the heart of who we are. Since we all come from the same Father, we are all equal in dignity. We all have an equal claim to the gift of life, and we all deserve the same respect and the same level of care as everyone else. 

Malachi was speaking here to the priests ofJerusalem, who were abusing their role as leaders. They were showing partiality and taking advantage of their positions. Because of their scandalous behavior and lopsided teachings, many of the people under their care began to “falter” (Malachi 2:8). The situation got so bad that Malachi accused these priests of making void the covenant God made with their spiritual ancestor Levi!

Contrast their behavior with Paul’s description of his ministry to the people of Thessalonica: “We were gentle among you. . . . We were determined to share with you . . . our very selves” (1 Thessalonians 2:7,8). Paul understood the dignity that every child of God shares. He was clearly aware of the one Father we all share, the one God who created each of us.

Today’s readings invite us to examine our thoughts and behavior. Are there groups of people whom we look down upon? Perhaps people from a different social or economic background. Maybe we look suspiciously at people who follow a different religion or who have different political convictions. Of course, we should hold on to the truth as God has revealed it, but we should also treat everyone with the utmost respect. If Jesus valued them enough to die for them, shouldn’t we treat them—and everyone we meet—with honor?

“Heavenly Father, help me to treat other people with dignity. In every way that my life touches another, let that touch be soaked in your love for that person as your child!”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the first reading the Lord, through the prophet Malachi, speaks accusingly and makes a curse of those who have “caused many to falter”.  How convicting is this to you in how you reflect Christ to others? What are the things you are doing or saying that do not set an appropriate example for those with whom you come into contact? What steps can you take to change this? 
  2. The responsorial psalm speaks of our soul as “stilled and quieted.”  What are the things that keep your soul from being still and quiet during times of prayer? During the day? How can you change this? 
  3. In the second reading from the letter to the Thessalonians,St. Pauldescribes his behavior as gentle, caring, and affectionate. Does this describe how you relate to your family, or you co-workers, or others? 
  4. The Gospel reading ends with these words of Christ, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” What is your understanding of these words? How do they apply to you? 
  5. In the Gospel, Christ also condemns those whose behavior does not match their words.  If your family, or fellow parishioners, or co-workers were polled, would they describe you as a good Catholic man or woman of God?  If you are not sure, what are the things you need to change? 
  6. The meditation asks the following question of us: “Are there groups of people whom we look down upon?” How would you answer this question? Why is it important to treat with dignity even those “who follow a different religion or who have different political convictions?” 
  7. Take some time now to pray for the grace to treat others with dignity and respect, no matter what your differences might be. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point. 

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.