I must admit: I love a straight-shooter. Now, I’m not talking about people who are cruel or careless with their words. But when someone who loves me has the courage to call me on my stuff, I honestly appreciate their candor. I guess that’s why I’m attracted to holy people who speak their minds, like Mother Angelica, or Saint Teresa of Calcutta, among others. My love for the real and the raw is why I chuckled as I read today’s First Reading: “Man!” I thought. “Saint Paul is bringing the smackdown again!”
Indeed, he was laying out the truth in his first letter to Timothy as he declared that anyone who disagreed with or taught anything other than Christ’s teachings was arrogant and stupid. But wait—he wasn’t finished yet—Saint Paul further said they’re envious, rivalrous, insulting, suspicious, grating, corrupt, and, basically, using religion to puff up their egos as well as their money bags.
It’s easy for me to smugly condemn those proud and silly people who twist or reject Jesus’ teachings for their own gain until . . . I sit in the quiet with the words on the page and ask myself: have I ever used my walk with Jesus as an opportunity for notoriety or feelings of self-righteousness or accomplishment? Do I treat Him like a glorified Genie-in-a-bottle Who, if I do just the right things or say just the right prayers, will grant my every wish? Do I attend Mass or volunteer my time primarily to feel proud of myself for checking the “good Catholic” boxes with my deeds, or am I motivated by love for the One Who first loved me?
Sadly, I’m having a hard time remembering the last time I sat contentedly with my Lord and just talked to Him like a friend, not expecting to receive anything in return. And I’m not sure when the last time I sat and humbly listened was, either.
Thanks be to God, there is hope. As Saint Paul tells Timothy, we can be content with the simple things. We truly can “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” in this life. (Timothy 6:11) Saint Paul doesn’t promise that we will always get it right. But he implores us to keep going. We must keep competing for the faith. We must keep seeking the One Who waits for each of us, His loving arms opened as wide as the Cross.
When was the last time you had a meaningful heart-to-heart encounter with Jesus? Find a pocket of quiet time and humbly tell Him what's on your mind. He will neither reject nor abandon you. Trust in Him.
Heather Renshaw is a speaker, writer, and uplifter on a mission to love and serve God with her husband and five children in the unchurched Pacific NW. She loves a good iced coconut milk latte and the silence of the Adoration chapel. You can learn more about her here.