2 Thes 3:6-10, 16-18 / Mt 23:27-32
There’s an old saying to the effect that people will know us by the friends we keep. There’s solid insight in that, on several levels. The most obvious is the likelihood of our choosing companions who share our more important views and attitudes towards life. But there’s another dynamic at work as well. With the passing of time, even the most wary of us tend to take on the ideas, values, and even the mannerisms of the people with whom we spend our days. We don’t necessarily think about it or decide to do it, it just happens. And sometimes what we take into ourselves from them is not all that admirable.
That’s why St. Paul is so outspoken in his advice to us about friends: “Avoid any brother who wanders from the straight path and does not follow the tradition you receive from us,” he says. Paul knew how fast we can slide into spiritual sickness without even noticing it.
But we can’t stop with just avoiding trouble. There’s more to be done about people who’ve moved in wrong directions. Pray for them, but don’t preach. Search for opportunities to talk with them about the things that matter. And when you do, speak from the heart and listen from the heart. Live your values. Let your life offer a different vision that speaks louder than any words. They may not admit it, but they’ll notice. And in the end, if nothing seems to work, leave it to God. More often than not, only time will bring people to a readiness to rethink. So be patient, and leave it to God.