Saturday, March 14, 2015



A word that has come up a few times recently at our daily school assembly is “brat,” as in “You are acting like a bunch of brats.” It comes up when certain students refuse to stop talking when the signal for silence is given. These kids just unthinkingly keep on doing what they want to do, following their own agendas instead of the community's. To do that is, in the Headmaster’s opinion, to act like  brat. I’m afraid that we’re seeing more and more kids who apparently get away with that behavior at home and then bring it into school with them. No one has ever told them to subordinate their own wishes to the needs of others, so they just act like brats.


This Friday morning's first reading at mass ended with this strange phrase: 
"Straight are the paths of the Lord,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them." (Hosea 14:10)

I pondered for a while why or how people could stumble if they were walking on the straight, correct path. 

There are plenty of places in the bible that speak of the "two paths," -- the wrong one being the way of evil which is trod by the wicked whose right hand is filled with bribes and who rob orphans and widows. I find it unrealistic to identify with those criminals, but that means that I have to identify myself as one of "the just ones," which smscks of complacency and presumption. Hold that thought.

Back to the image of people who stumble while following "the path of the Lord." I finally looked at the biblical references for Hosea 4:10 in my bible and was sent to this verse from the prophet Micah:

"You have been told, O mortal, what is good.
and what the Lord requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God." 
(Micah 6:8)

There it was: at least one answer as to how some people get tripped up even while following God’s path. They’re not wicked people, they have no evil intentions or anything like that. They just forget to walk humbly with their God. "Walking humbly" means doing what God wants you to do, however unimportant it seems to you, and subjecting your will to what God asks of you, rather than putting your own agenda first. Hmm... That last phrase had a familiar ring to it… That's right! You got it: It’s the very description of a BRAT! Someone who won’t submit his or her agenda to someone else’s. Hah! So Hosea was talking about Biblical Brats!


I had discovered a new biblical category of people: spiritual brats; they're basically good well-intentioned folks whose lack of humility can sometimes cause them to stumble in the way of righteousness. I then moved on to the next step in my reflection, the question that should always be part of lectio: What does this say to ME? How does this apply to my life?

And then it hit me: My relationship with the Lord gets weak and troubled when I start acting like a brat -- Like the freshman who prefers doing his own thing to doing what is demanded by the greater good. I try various excuses and explanations for not doing what God asks of me but the fact remains that clearly I’m acting like a brat. Wow, does that shoe fit!


Lent seems to be the perfect time for dealing with one's inner brat. Walking the forty-day Pilgrim Road of self denial, extra prayer and other disciplines can really provoke the spoiled brat in each of us. This then gives us a clear choice not between being good or being wicked, but rather between following our own selfish agenda or doing what we know God wants of us. "Walking humbly with God" means doing things God's way, imitating the example of our Savior in Gethsemane who said "Not my will but yours be done."

Okay, so maybe it worked for Frank.


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