A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Deciding Where We Stand

Posted on: January 12, 2015

We may not have spent a lot of time considering the tension between freedom of expression and respect for others’ religious beliefs before last week’s attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo in France.

We may not have thought hard about women’s struggle to get an education in some countries before we heard about the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria or the attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan.

And, closer to home, we may not have thought about our stance on euthanasia until it concerned someone we knew.

Sometimes we don’t give much thought to an issue until a situation arises that forces us to take a closer look at our opinions. And sometimes we wrestle with deciding where we stand and how to act on our convictions.

We can take some advice from Paul’s letter to the Romans. He reminds us to look at things not from the world’s perspective, but from God’s:

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6*)

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

He urges us to love one another and hold onto what is good:

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour. (Romans 12:9)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

We need the Spirit’s guidance to see the situation as God sees it, not as the world sees it. We need to remember that, wherever they may be in the world, all people are his children and need his care and compassion—and ours. And if we feel compelled to change a situation, we need to make sure our actions are in line with God’s will, as we read in Jeremiah 9:24:

“But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practice steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, says the LORD.”

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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