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Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scriptural Readings: Romans 14:7-12; Psalms 27:1bcde, 4, 13-14; Luke 15:1-10

My dear encountered couples:

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” That was some of the criticism Jesus had to put up with.

Are you ever criticized for the people you hang around with? It didn’t stop Jesus from being with whomever he wanted, and ordinarily it shouldn’t stop us either. But there is something important to realize about Jesus.

The good in Jesus was so great, and he was so well in control of himself, that no one was going to tempt him into doing anything bad. No one, no matter how bad, that he associated with could ever pull him down to their level; instead he drew them up to his. The goodness and self-control in Jesus was so powerful it made saints out of sinners. They were not going to make a devil out of him. On the other hand we might find ourselves drawn downward by the wrong kind of friends. We have weaknesses, we might have embarrassing fantasies, and find ourselves easily influenced to do deeds we know we shouldn’t do. People who affect us like that, maybe we should not hang around with them too much.

Friendship is important, and every person is to be loved and shown respect. But we should respect ourselves too. And unless we are very strong in our faith and Christian principles common sense demands a certain degree of spiritual self-defense. A long time ago you were probably taught to avoid all persons, places, and things that lead you into sin. Maybe Jesus didn’t have to worry about that, but many of us do. It isn’t because we are better than others that we should avoid anyone, but because we might be potentially worse than they. Let us get to know ourselves, be available to do good for anyone, but make those only our closest friends who by their characters help to lift us up.


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