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Be Unusual


“It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” ~ Dolly Parton

In today’s 1st Reading (Deuteronomy 26:16-19), we look in on Moses as he prepares the Israelites for their entry into the long awaited promised land. In dialogue that loosely resembles a pre-game pep talk delivered in a dank and dimly lit locker room, he implores those in his midst to keep the Commandments. A simple enough instruction on the surface, yet we know from our own experience that life will challenge and tempt us, fiercely at times, and sinfulness is all too often the result. Moses however goes out of his way to stress the magnitude of this agreement, as he repeatedly refers to it, an agreement wherein God promises to make the Israelites a people “peculiarly his own” . Provided, of course, that they keep the Commandments. If they do, Moses concludes, they will be a “people sacred to the Lord, as promised.”

We know that the world doesn’t necessarily hold the 10 Commandments in particularly high esteem anymore. With the aid of the secular world, our elected officials, and sadly enough even a handful of our clergy, the commandments have more or less morphed into “suggestions.” Atheists and the like have waged an incessant battle to have displays depicting the Ten Commandments removed from our Courthouses and the government-owned ground upon which they were built. From time to time they win.

So how do we live a life steeped in the Commandments in a world that has come to encourage what has essentially become a zombie-like secular conformity? Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” To accomplish this requires the knowledge and understanding to know that we are children of God, rooted in the truth of the Commandments. So how do we achieve this?

“Be unusual.” These were the words of Father Leonard Mary in his homily delivered on EWTN Radio this morning, a homily that I was fortunate enough to catch in my car on my way to Mass. Appropriate words in light of today’s 1st Reading yes, but even more-so as it pertains to our Gospel (Matthew 5:43-48), wherein Jesus urges us to love our enemies. Talk about being unusual. Who does that? Perhaps we can sit out this odd and unrealistic round of unusuality(occasionally I make up words).

But it’s a funny thing about being unusual, or unique if you prefer that word instead as many might. It would seem as though we have no qualms whatsoever about being unusual or unique in the secular facets of our lives. Upon arriving in the Church parking lot this morning for instance I immediately spotted a brand new jeep painted in custom plum purple. Upon entering the sanctuary of the church there was a young lady two pews in front of me who had lime green streaks through her hair. If we are unabashedly unique in such relatively insignificant aspects of our life such as automobile and hair color, why then would we be afraid to stand up and defend the truth in the workplace when someone urges us to “get with the times” when the topic turns to transgenderism for instance? For that matter, why would we simply love our family and allies? What’s so unusual about that? That’s the way the world does it. Jesus expects us to be unusually gracious and unusually generous to everyone, so that we may emulate his reckless generosity and love as made manifest on the Cross. It was Mother Angelica who often said that the essence of evangelization is to show the world that God loves them. Everyone in the world. We do this through our actions, choices and words.

Pray for the Spiritual gift of fortitude so that you too can be unusual. Albert Einstein once said “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” Our goal after all is to ultimately arrive in that place of indescribable joy, a place that no one has ever seen before. And to reside there for all of eternity.

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