By: Jennifer Burgin
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Last Autumn, when Fr. Alfonse asked me to write meditations for his blog, I doubted my ability. I felt very honored by his request. However, I worried how effectively I could "connect" with his audience through my own words. I'm not a vowed religious, a married woman with children or even a cradle Catholic. Will people relate or think my posts are a bunch of nonsense?.......
Are you abnormal? Today's reading from 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 spoke to me instantly. Saint Paul talks about the order of people Jesus appeared to after his resurrection. The passage ends with the words: "Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me."
How often do we think of ourselves as abnormal? Maybe we suffer from physical or mental handicaps. Or, we engage in habits and personal rituals that appear odd to others. We may be a little eccentric, saying off-the-wall comments that spark a questioning look or response. People just don't get us!
God made each one of us special. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we think being different is bad? Why do we care so much about what people say or think about us? All that matters is that God loves us!
Over the years, I've realized being abnormal - different, unique, special, authentic, out of the ordinary - is something not to be ashamed of. Certainly, when it comes to being a faithful Catholic it's essential to be perfectly abnormal. Society's new "normal" involves selfishness, indifference, excess, over-consumption, and waste. An individual's wants and desires become the primary attraction, creating what Pope Francis refers to as a "throw away culture." If it's not normal, get rid of it! If it doesn't benefit "me, myself and I" then it's no good. Throw it out to the dogs!
Abnormality requires each follower of Christ to step out of the bounds of worldliness. Don't conform to the culture but change the culture. Don't fit the secular mold but reshape the mold so that God is center. Focus on loving, caring, and accepting one another as beautiful gifts from God.
Jesus' own abnormality Consider Jesus' own abnormality during his public ministry. He dined with prostitutes and tax collectors. He cast out demons, gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. He often spoke in confusing terms, answering questions with more questions. Most abnormal of all: Christ rose from the dead! Yet, his "abnormality" still attracts people to Christianity even in the midst of growing anti-religious sentiment. People see the evil around them, often recognizing the poor decisions they've made. They feel a pulsating spiritual magnet drawing them to something uplifting and more fulfilling. The spiritual magnet of Christ is infinitely strong, overpowering all material possessions and creature comforts. Earthly pleasures composed of pride, vanity and sensuality are de-magnetized as spiritual magnetism draws us intimately closer to Our Lord.
Who wants to be boringly normal when we can be perfectly abnormal! Proudly wear the t-shirt that tells the world you believe in God and desire to follow his works and his mighty deeds!
Do even greater works Jesus commands all Christians to perform even greater works. These are important works he could not accomplish during his short life. Today we recognize the courageous apostles Saint Philip and Saint James who proclaimed Jesus' way, truth and life with vigor and enthusiasm. Without their faith and dedication, as well as the ministry of other early disciples, the Christian message would not have survived 2000 years and counting.
As followers of Jesus we may not be able to perform miracles such as raising someone from the dead, but we can help and care for one another. We can certainly ask Our Lord for his divine assistance. He clearly answers "I will do it" if we only ask in his name!
Stop the close-minded thinking and critical judgments. Help those who are suffering instead of ignoring them. Discover innovative ways of spreading the good news of the gospel. Be kind and loving toward those who are different. God wishes for peace and harmony among all of his blessed children.Saint Philip and Saint James, Pray for Us!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a convert to Catholicism. Please visit her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality