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24th Week in Ordinary Time
By the grace of God I am what I am. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Have you ever been at a party or social gathering where you felt way out of your element? Perhaps you were surrounded by very sophisticated, highly educated people. Maybe everyone seemed to have the trappings of success: nice clothes, fine jewelry, new cars. Or you might have felt that everyone there was better looking than you. Whatever the case, did you notice that when you began comparing yourself to the people around you, it probably didn’t end well?
The apostle Paul was in a similar situation. He was in close contact with the other apostles, and it would have been easy for him to feel inadequate compared to them. They had spent years living and working with Jesus, while Paul had just one brief encounter with the Lord. The other apostles hadn’t followed Jesus perfectly, but Paul had persecuted the Church! How could he ever live that down?
Actually, he didn’t try. Here’s how he put it: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul recognized that God had a plan for his life, and this plan was different than what God was doing with the other apostles. Sure, he had made some very big mistakes, but God’s grace was at work in him, and that was enough.
God has a plan for your life as well, and it may not look like what he’s doing with other people. Meaning in your life will come from how God sees you, not how you see yourself, and certainly not how you think you stack up against other people! In fact, comparing yourself like this can keep you from Jesus. Consider today’s Gospel reading. If this woman had been concerned with what people thought about her, she never would have come to Jesus!
Try to watch yourself this week. Listen to your thoughts. Are you critical of yourself? Or maybe you tend to look down on others. Memorize Paul’s words, and repeat them to yourself: by the grace of God I am what I am. And then offer this blessing to everyone else: by the grace of God you are what you are.
“Father, thank you for working in my life, for loving me, and for accepting me.”
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 28; Luke 7:36-50
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