Commentary on the Gospel of

Julie Kalkowski - Creighton University's Financial Hope Collaborative


“Be Open”

A friend of mine once called me the Queen of Rationalization as I could always come up with an excuse to eat any decadent dessert.  As I read today’s Scriptures, I remembered that and thought, ‘So, that’s where I got it: Eve!’  “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom.”  What’s not to like, right?  So conveniently setting aside one of the few directives from God, she ate the forbidden fruit and shared some with Adam. 

As a teaching assistant in a program for first generation college students in the 1980s, I worked with their core curriculum.  This curriculum was designed to increase the odds of their success in college.  I had frequent discussions about replacing the Critical Thinking course with one on Institutional Racism and Sexism. I argued that if students saw the pattern of these systems, they could move past personalizing the micro-aggressions to do something about them or at least not get sidetracked by them. The professor countered that Critical Thinking skills would prepare them to do just that. 

Now, all these decades later, Professor Cedarbloom’s words come back to haunt me. How often do I seek out others who reinforce my opinions, who help me justify my rationalizations for doing something I should not have done? It is easy to be like Eve that way, not thinking through my actions.  Using rationalizations to do what I want to do instead of what I should do.  Many times, thinking critically could have helped me avoid problems in the first place, but instead I went ahead and did what I wanted to do. 


Fr. Greg Carlson, S.J. taught us this simple prayer on a retreat many years ago: “Thee, Thee, Thee…all’s I want is Thee.”  Next time I catch myself concocting some ways to justify what I want to do; I would do well to remember that prayer. 

To drive home this insight, the Gospel tells the story of Jesus curing a man so that he could hear and speak clearly.  “Be open” Jesus groaned.  How is Jesus challenging me to “be open”?  Open to seeing my rationalizations for what they are?  Open to thinking critically about whether a particular action would serve God or just me?

These are trying times that we are living through, but they are also an opportunity to fix some problems in our communities and country.  If I can ‘be open’ and leave behind my fears and rationalizations, I can choose to take actions that serve God’s people instead of my own narrow interest.

As today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, I wanted to end with one of his quotes that sums up my sentiments today quite nicely.  “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”   - Abraham Lincoln


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