In today’s first reading, Eph 4: 32-5:8, St. Paul asks us to “[b]e kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ…[L]ive in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us…Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.” What if I consistently lived thankfully, looking for that in any other person for which I could sincerely say “Thank you.” What if I looked for things for which I sincerely said to the person I live with each day: “I truly appreciated….” As a former parent trainer, I recall the first lesson of Commonsense Parenting, which encouraged parents to look for things for which to praise their children and/or affirm their efforts to do well and to do so consistently every day. Of course, there were other skills parents needed to practice, such as setting limits, following through with consequences for unacceptable behaviors, which transformed the family situation tremendously.
So, what if I were a truly grateful person instead of a critical one? What if, instead of concentrating on what I don’t like, I would spend my energy focusing on what I do like about myself, about others, about anything and everything! Yes, what if I lived in love as Christ loves me and handed himself over for me (cf. Eph. 4: 33). Perhaps I would be so busy looking for ways to be for the other and ways of easing the burdens of life, that I would readily notice others bent over by life’s hardships, as Jesus noticed the woman in today’s Gospel unable to straighten up for 18 years. Without a word from her or even eye contact, Jesus healed her, touched her with the compassion of God. He did not see an elderly, weak, crippled woman but a human being held in high esteem by her God and worthy of love and compassion, a person whose self-esteem needed to be restored and whose brokenness needed to be made whole. The same opportunities are given to each of us each day. How am I going to respond?