Instructions for Living Faithfully

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
January 2017

Instructions for Living Faithfully

Instructions for Living Faithfully

Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

In this short teaching from the gospel of Matthew we are encouraged to refrain from judging, reverence what is holy and embrace the mystery of prayer.

“Stop judging!”

These words from Matthew 7:1 summon me to linger before the throne of judgment that I have erected in various places and for countless reasons. My own personal throne! All too often I find myself ascending this self-made cathedra and making proclamations devoid of compassion. In moments when God decides to be kind to me I am able to hear again the voice of a friend of long ago saying: “Remember Macrina, you are a temple not a courthouse.” Then I hear another friend from long ago: my biblical friend Paul asking me, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”(1 Cor 3:16).

I blush. Embarrassed to be so judgmental, I make a feeble effort to climb down from my throne but it’s not easy. It’s not easy to put one’s judgmental nature aside and attempt to see people as Jesus sees them. Very emphatically, Jesus tells us to stop judging. Yes, people have faults. Yes, people are flawed and imperfect. Yet that is not all they are.

A story told by psychologist Tara Brach has been helpful as I pray about my tendency to judge others. You are walking through a wooded area and come upon a small dog. It is so cute and you bend down to pet the dog. It snarls and tries to bite you. Suddenly the dog does not seem so cute; you experience fear and even anger. As the wind begins to blow, leaves on the ground are blown away. You notice the dog’s leg is caught in a trap. Now you understand the reason for the dog’s aggression. Your anger turns to compassion.

If, when we are about to judge someone, the leaves that are camouflaging their pain could be blown away, we might see this person in a whole new light.

We move on to Jesus’ humorous wisdom in Matthew 7:3-5 admonishing us to be careful of trying to take a splinter from someone’s eye when there is a log in our own. A log in your eye prevents you from seeing clearly. Look carefully at others that you may truly see them. Looking and seeing are not the same. Seeing requires looking with the heart as well as the eye.

The Pearls of Faith

Commentaries offer various meanings on throwing what is holy to dogs and casting pearls to swine (Matt 7:6). For our reflection here I suggest that we give what is sacred to those who will appreciate it. Do not waste your energy on people who choose not to honor your message. There are times when we wear ourselves out trying to convince others to reverence a way of life that is precious to us. It is best to teach by action. Our living can be a gospel, a proclamation of the Good News.

Prayer is a Mystery

Finally we are given these comforting words: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). We may recall days when we knocked on the door and it seemed as though no one was home. Prayer is a mystery – an enigmatic grace. It is not as though God arrives at a certain moment during our prayer. God is always present, even in the midst of what appears to be unanswered prayers.

God, like any parent, desires to give good gifts to those who ask. A healthy parent would never give a gift that would be harmful. If we human beings know how to offer good gifts, surely our God who is the Source of all Life will offer us good things. The real challenge in prayer is for us to learn how to discern our true needs. This requires a deep listening to our lives.

If we ask for gifts that nurture our faith-life and assist us in Christ-centered living we may be surprised at how quickly we receive this favor from God.

If we seek ways to support and affirm others rather than judging them we may be delighted to find that we already possess the gift we are requesting.

If we knock on the door with a heart full of trust and hope we may be astonished at how speedily the door opens.

This advice is not meant to be simplistic. We all struggle, at times, to believe that God is truly awake to our needs. The presence of God sometimes feels like absence. What is being suggested here is that we keep our prayer genuine, asking for gifts that will assist us in building up the Kingdom of God.

Your next word to romance: Colossians 3:1-17

Visit Sister Macrina’s website:

As you make your plans for Lent this year, make plans to immerse yourself in the Passion and Resurrection Narratives of Jesus.  The printed materials have been revised and the wrap-up lectures are entirely new.  Speakers include: Deacons Matthew Glover, Tom Jakobs and Dan Hennessey, along with Msgr. David LeSieur, Catherine Upchurch, and Clifford Yeary.

We’re pleased to announce two new volumes of Alive in the Word, available this month. 

Our newest in the category of Cloud of Witnesses is John the Baptist, Forerunner by Jerome Kodell, OSB.  Father Jerome focuses on three episodes in the life of the baptizer: the preaching of John (Matt 3:1-11), the identity of the Messiah (Matt 11:2-14) and the friend of the bridegroom (John 3:22-30). 

Our newest in the category of Virtues for Disciples is a volume entitled Hope, An Anchor in Today’s World. Janet Schaeffler, OP, explores the hope that flows from praise (Ps 145:13-21), suffering in light of what is to come (Rom 8:18-27) and the story of the blind beggar who places his hope in Jesus (Luke 18:35-43).

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences using Little Rock Scripture Study or Alive in the Word. Visit our Facebook page to post your comments or contact us directly by email at

Upcoming speaking engagements include:

Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference in New Orleans (Kenner) January 12-14.  Cackie Upchurch will present a session: “Mary, Disciple and Companion on the Way.” 

Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA February February 24-26.  Cackie Upchurch will present two sessions: “Reading and Living the Scriptures” and “Trust is the Key to Faithfulness.”

Little Rock Scripture Study and Alive in the Word will have an exhibit at both conferences. We would love to have you drop by to see what’s new, share your bright ideas, and tell us your stories.

For more information about workshops, Little Rock Connections, or to offer suggestions, or submit items, please contact:
Little Rock Scripture Study
PO Box 7565
Little Rock, AR 72217

Little Rock Scripture Study

Little Rock Scripture Study, PO Box 7565, Little Rock, AR 72217-7565
Liturgical Press, 2950 Saint John's Road, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.858.5434 or 320.363.2213
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