From The Word Among Us:
Learn to do good. Make justice your aim. (Isaiah 1:17)
In just a few words, the prophet Isaiah urged the Israelites to make a vital decision: “Wash yourselves clean! Cease doing evil!” Moments like this are a great grace, moments when we clearly see what we have done wrong and choose to deal with it. If I’ve stolen money, I should make restitution. If I’ve been swearing, I should resolve to stop. Whatever the situation, I need to do something. I may need to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, seek forgiveness from someone I have hurt, or avoid a particular place or thing that endangers me.
But let’s be clear. Not all change occurs in dramatic moments. Most of the time, our goal is to “aim at” justice and “learn to do good” one step at a time. Perhaps God is inviting you to grow in kindness. There are many ways you can do this. You can take time to pray for a person who irritates you and then look for ways to compliment him or her. You can pause before you begin each new chore or activity and ask God to show you one small way that you can be helpful there.
Here’s another strategy: instead of focusing on the negative trait you are trying to overcome, try cultivating its opposite. If you tend toward passivity, cultivate zeal by stepping forward to help out. If you tend to be critical, practice appreciation by saying positive and encouraging things. If pride is your main temptation, cultivate humility by putting other people first. If you are impatient, cultivate patience by waiting longer before grumbling or even looking at your watch.
This kind of learning doesn’t happen overnight, and it can be challenging. But know this: your tiniest efforts bring a smile to God’s face. When you offer him even your desire to do better, he multiplies this little gift and fills it with the transforming power of his love. Just as a parent teaches a baby to talk by praising and repeating his first sounds, Jesus, our patient teacher, is eager to work with us as we grow in his love.
“Holy Spirit, I am still learning to know you and walk in your ways. Keep teaching me and forming me. Lord, I want to learn to do good!”