A well-known speaker began his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. He asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”  Hands started going up. “I am going to give this $20 to one of you – but first, let me do this.”  He proceeded to crumple up the 20 dollar bill. He then asked. “Who still wants it?”  The hands shot up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?” He dropped the money on the ground, grinding it into the floor and then picked it up — crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands enthusiastically went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because the money did not decrease in value. It is still worth $20.  Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, we will never lose our value. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do or who we know, but in WHO WE ARE.”  (Author Unknown)

The Pharisees puffed up their self-worth by grounding people down. In their zeal to win converts, the Pharisees required unnecessary and burdensome rules. Such requirements obscured the more important matters of religion — love of God and love of neighbor. They led people to Pharisaism rather than to God. Jesus abhorred this mindset that locked people out of the kingdom of heaven. In time we will lose everything – life is a series of letting go. But like that tarnished $20 bill, our value remains eternal because of our Lord’s eternal love.

If today you don’t feel particularly loveable or don’t feel particularly like loving others, no problem.  Ask for our Lord’s help and move out in faith -– hour by hour.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team