The gospel of Luke, chapter 13:5
The longer I live, the more obvious it seems to me that attitude is more important than anything else in this world. An attitude touches the core of a human being; it is all-embracing, impacting on every aspect of a person’s life for good or for bad. A bad attitude can ruin everything; a good attitude is like a ray of sunshine: it can uplift, inspire people and transform the world around us.
Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people say or do. It is more important than appearances, than talent, than a job. It will make or break a family, a church, a business. The wonderful thing is that we have a choice concerning the attitudes we will embrace each day. We cannot change the past, we cannot alter the facts of life, we can only change the way we deal with life. What happens to you is not nearly as important as how you handle it. A good friend of mine, a NASCAR champion driver, once told me that the most important element in driving was in “the handling.” Is that not also true of life? Is that not why Jesus gave us eight excellent attitudes in the sermon on the mount so that we can be renewed in spirit by them? ( Matthew 5-7 ). But, in order to possess these Christian attitudes or Beatitudes we need to let go of the old sinful ones.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter thirteen, we are told: “unless you repent, you will perish.” But, real repentance starts from within. It comes from a change of heart that will determine what you do, and, if your heart is in the right place, your actions will bear good fruit. If your heart is in the wrong place, your actions will produce bad fruit. For example, if you are a greedy person, you will do anything to get your own way even if that means harming or destroying others or spreading lies and slander about those you perceive as obstacles to your goals. Some people think that is acceptable in a competitive culture where winning by any means is tauted as success. And so they say: “nothing succeeds like success.” But, is that success if you succeed without integrity? Jesus reminds of this when he states that “all evil acts come from the deep recesses of the human soul,” from attitudes of hatred, pride, greed, and so forth. To live a Christian life; to follow Christ; is to be prepared to repent of those bad attitudes from within and to replace them with the Christian attitudes of the gospel.
You cannot put new wine into old wines-skins, Jesus tells us, for the new wine will burst the old wines-skins. In the same way, you cannot follow Jesus if you cling to, rather than repent of bad attitudes. You must repent first in order to put on the example of Christ. On this second Sunday of Advent, we need to look hard at the enemy within. This is our time to enter into the renewal that Advent urges. We need to know our dark side: we need to know where we have cheated ourselves and one another: we need to know where we have lost track of the good news of the gospel in our lives.
A healthy Christian attitude is the best thing you have going for you. So, make it your special project this Advent to let go of those bad attitudes that prevent you from possessing the kingdom of God from within.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Hugh Duffy