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What Are Your Habits

First Reading: Wisdom 2:23-3:9
God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made them.
But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world,
and they who are in his possession experience it.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
R. (2a) I will bless the Lord at all times.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.

Gospel: Luke 17:7-10
Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

NAB

nov 10

I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better Than Before, a book that explores the various ways we develop good habits and bad, while looking more deeply at reasons why cultivating good habits can be so difficult. But I’m reminded today of Rubin’s thoughts and research when it comes to rewards and habit forming.

Rubin shows research and a lot of different examples of why the idea of a reward isn’t a great way to get yourself to commit to lasting, positive habits. Mostly because while a good thing may be a carrot to propel you forward in good habit forming, it doesn’t help as much in moments of difficulty and when the reward ends you’re more likely to abandon the habit altogether.

Rubin also makes the important connection that long lasting positive habit change is best done when the person has an internal incentive. We need to want the habit change not for an external reward, but for the personal satisfaction of having accomplished it.

I thought of this example of human nature and habits when reading today’s readings. At first glance it seems great that we who trust in the Lord will abide with Him in love—but then Jesus gives us a reminder that just because we do what God has commanded of us doesn’t necessarily mean we deserve special treatment. We are just doing what’s expected of us.

Following Jesus shouldn’t earn us any extra incentives because a relationship with Jesus is reward enough. And just like making long-lasting, positive habit change in our lives, we can’t set out in our lives as Christians to follow the Ten Commandments, try and be a good people, even go to Mass every week, and expect to be showered with superficial and/or earthly perks. We need to recognize that abiding in Christ’s love is our true goal and our true reward.

Lord Jesus, help us focus on serving you and being faithful today in big and small things. Help us keep our eyes on you.

photo by Jacqueline Kayleigh

Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.

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