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That's Not Me!

The other day I was standing outside the Church before Mass, and a motorcycle raced past at about 80 to 90 miles per hour (on a 30 mph road!). I am not making this up; there were others there to see it. One of the parishioners turned to me and said, "that's not the way you ride, right father?" I said, "right!"

It was encouraging to hear the parishioner say that since that means that she trusted that I was careful and safe in the way I ride. Those motorcyclists, however, that do ride that way make many people think that all motorcyclists ride that way, and that is important for us to consider what that means in our lives. Our behavior reflects on those whom we are similar to. If we do something and it makes others think that all people "like us" do the same things as we are doing, then we must realize we are accountable for the example we give.

But, what about those other areas in our lives? Do we give bad examples at times that make people think that other Catholics behave like we do? That can be either a good thing or a bad thing. Have you ever had someone tell you that "all Catholics..." (fill in the rest with any bad behavior)? It is common for people to project one experience on everyone in that same category; we call it generalizing.

When it comes to our faith, what examples are you giving that make others say "that's not me"? How shameful is it if we are the bad example that damages someone else's reputation? There may be times when we need to say about someone else, "that's not me", but let us each pay attention to our own behavior so that we do what we can so that no one says that about us. Remember, Jesus once said, "woe to those who lead others astray".


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