My very best friend in all the world died of a brain tumor several years ago. I know, a weird way to begin a devotional, but I wanted you to know the end of the story so you will value it as much as I do.
You see, Rod was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, but he went and served anyway as a medical corpsman. He rarely spoke about his experiences there but the few times he did, the stories stuck with me forever! Remind me to tell you sometime about “No sweat, GI!”
One of Rod’s favorite sayings that he picked up during his time in the military was “No life is a total waste. It can always serve as a bad example!” Great, huh? This has become something of a warning sign for me in my own life. My choices, my attitudes, my actions, and my reactions are never done in some kind of vacuum. They always affect others, even if it is the ripple effect through the universe of my own negativity. I am not an island unto myself and my choices touch everyone around me to one degree or another.
When you think about this, it becomes obvious that the most irresponsible act a human can commit is the conscious or unconscious, dismissal of my own responsibility.
No wonder Jesus says what He says in today’s Gospel Lesson. Look at Luke 7:31-35.
The Lord said, “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, ‘We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Jesus points out to His generation that St. John the Forerunner came with serious ascetic practices and the people reacted with dismissal. The Lord came engaging people in their lives and they accuse Him of being too loose with His life! Condemned if you do and Condemned if you don’t! How many times have we seen this in our own lives? I confess to you I see it all the time as a parish priest. But, since this is such a common occurrence in we humans, it is a lesson we cannot afford to ignore if we are going to grow up beyond this childish trap.
The Lord gives us an insight into the path out of this with His words “Wisdom is justified by all her children.” Here the Lord invites us to confront the mature reality that we must all face if we are ever to escape our lives serving as a bad example! He calls us to confront, accept, and embrace the mature realization that true wisdom produces a well-lived life, and the lack of true wisdom doesn’t! It’s as simple as that.
Today, your life is not a total waste! It can at least serve as a warning for others to avoid the mistakes you’ve made! Not very comforting, is it? But take heart! No matter where you are in your life, the Church through God’s inexhaustible grace and mercy, invites you to the only wise choice any of us humans can ever make in light of our own imperfections. We are invited to not allow our mistakes to take on a lifetime of neglect! We are invited to the life-giving path of repentance and the freedom of mercy and love! So, don’t let your life’s value be reduced to a warning to others. Today, embrace the wisdom of humility and repentance and leave a brighter path for your children and all around you! By the way, Rod’s life is still shining a light on my own! Thanks, buddy! (He would reply “No sweat, GI!”)