|In the past I was called upon to be
sympathetic, which gave me a feeling of sorrow for the
pain and disappointments of my neighbor.
Today I am expected to have empathy -- that disposition by which I put myself in another person's shoes, feel what he feels, understand his
actions and judge with more compassion.
In the past I was expected to lend an ear to a neighbor's problems or opinions and it was enough to be attentive.
Today I am expected to listen with loving attention, be willing to learn, be humble enough to change if necessary, and be totally interested in all he has to say. I am asked to be objective.
Today I am asked to be receptive to everyone and to regard only those things that unite us rather than the things that separate us.
In the past I was asked to be generous, which meant an unselfish giving.
Today I am expected to be magnanimous and give my love, my talents, my time and my possessions to God and my neighbor.
There is a definite, positive aspect of obedience that I may miss completely. It molds me into the image of Jesus in a special way. He was obedient to death, and His humility in submitting to His own creatures redeemed me from the slavery of sin.
Obedience is a strong virtue, capable of making me master of my emotions by giving me more strength to conquer my pride as I submit to those above me out of respect for their God-given authority, -- and those below me out of love.
I must not permit the evil capabilities of human nature to sour my faith in the tremendous good that is possible despite the frailty of that nature.
My brother my offend me seventy times seven but my faith in him should rise to the occasion, give him the benefit of the doubt and forgive him. His knowledge that his offenses have not lessened my faith in his inner goodness will help him gain confidence in himself.
Most people try hard to please, and my faith in them must be strong enough to ride the tide of failure as they voyage home.
Even if my fellow-man has proven faithless time after time, I can at least retain a hope that he will improve, pray for him, and think kindly without frustration and disappointment.
Jesus gave me a beautiful example of an undying faith in my neighbor by the way He treated Judas. To the very last, at the moment He was betrayed, Jesus called him "Friend."
My faith may not go that far, but at least I can try to build rather than destroy, to overcome rather than succumb, to be confident rather than doubtful, and raise sullen spirits with a friendly, "You can do it."
I must be sure that behind all my actions there is a motive. The effort I put forth in accomplishing the smallest task must have some motive behind it.
My failures may be my greatest successes. It is in failure that I have often drawn closer to God, learn to depend more on Him than myself, gained self-knowledge, and seen things in their right perspective.
If I continue to learn these lasting lessons from disappointment and failure, I can afford to continue being enthusiastic about the future and my capabilities.
There is another aspect of enthusiasm that I must not overlook. It is the enthusiasm of other people.
When I observe my neighbor joyously enthusiastic about anything, I must be careful not to put a damper on his joy.
It is lack of self-control that makes me lash out at my brother in a burst of anger, show impatience with my neighbor, talk about the faults of others, speak before I think, be intemperate in things that cause me
to buy things I cannot afford, be brutally frank and caustic at times, and criticize the faults of others publicly.
Self-control will grow stronger in proportion as my repentance is sincere.
When I tell God I am sorry for having offended Him, this contrition must be followed by the determination never to commit that fault again. Repentance without a firm resolution to improve is no repentance at all.
I cannot blame people and circumstances for my offenses, though both may be involved. It is my Will that decides my actions, and a lack of control over that will is the real cause of my faults.