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STEWARDSHIP | The power of the word ‘as’

The word “as” is powerful. It has a transformative, supernatural power. It takes us beyond where we can go on our own. Consider the following examples.

“And forgive us our debts (sins), as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Everyone recognizes this as part of the “Our Father” that Jesus taught us how to pray. Most of us pray this prayer daily, but do we truly mean what we pray? If so, there would be a lot less division and hostility in the world. I’m not just talking about between political leaders and countries, but between family members, friends and neighbors. God doesn’t hold our sins against us. He doesn’t hold grudges or avoid talking to us because we wronged Him. What conditions do you put on your mercy? Remember that forgiveness is a gift to ourselves as well — when we forgive, we free ourselves.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). As Americans, we love our comfort, convenience and possessions. There’s a huge divide between those who have and those who have not in our country. But, even the “least among us” in the U.S. typically has more in comparison to our neighbors around the world. It’s great to say that you love someone, but it’s more important that you show them. We were all made in God’s image. We are all His adopted daughters and sons – we are His family. Do you see the face of Jesus in others? Do you try to be the face of Jesus to others? We all have the ability to pray for our neighbor and the ability to share with our neighbor. We need to put other’s needs before our wants.

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). The disciples were scared and fearful of what may happen to them after seeing Jesus crucified and I imagine, probably feeling ashamed for abandoning Him. The resurrected Jesus returns to His disciples and the first thing He does is offer them “peace.” I think many of us can identify with how the disciples might have felt then. But, what about today? Most of us are not living under the fear of death because we believe in Jesus. Yet, how many times a day do we abandon Him because it’s not convenient for me right now, I’m too busy with something else or it may embarrass me? Jesus literally emptied Himself for our sake. Are we willing to do the same for Him? Opening our hearts to God’s plan is life-changing.

“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:15). Jesus just washed the disciples’ feet. The Son of God humbled Himself as an example of how we are to treat each other. Humility is the seed of any good relationship. If you want to grow in friendship with the Holy Trinity and with each other, it all starts with humility. Putting away our defenses, taking off our masks, and vulnerably sharing what is on our heart with God and each other develops trust. The more we trust, the more we share with each other — our relationship grows into friendship which evolves into love for one another. When we love, we grow in mercy and sacrifice for others — we imitate Jesus.

“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (John 17:11). Prior to being arrested and crucified, Jesus is praying for us! At His lowest point, He is thinking of us. How often do we do that — pray for others while in terrible circumstances? When saints suffered, they allowed their suffering to bring them closer to God. Instead of becoming selfish, they become selfless. This is what Jesus is referring to — becoming selfless.

We were not designed to be apart from God or from each other. The word “as” combines the human with the divine. “As” keeps us on the path of holiness; of becoming a saint — something we can’t do own our own.

Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County.

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