“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:39-45

thWe say of someone, “How can he live with himself?” Meaning that something is missing in that person’s life. We can easily fool ourselves. Self-honesty is not a given in this life’s journey. I keep telling myself that I look like Brad Pitt but hopefully some truth and sincerity will one day win me over. That $10.00 the waiter undercharged you and you respectfully return to the restaurant. That fake compliment about her hair. Taking credit for a job you barely helped create. Our relationship with the Trinity. Perhaps our relationship with the last statement has an effect on all the previous statements. The words we use, the actions we perform. Elements in life we ignore and elements that we embrace. It all adds up to one of my favorite words: integrity. It has strength when it’s spoken and it has character when it filters throughout your life. “She’s a person of integrity.” What a compliment to pay someone or to believe about yourself.

A preacher said, “We ought to have enough integrity to see both ourselves and others honestly. Jesus was exercising his sense of humor when he compared a splinter in a neighbor’s eye with a whole wooden beam in one’s own. His idea can be encapsulated in the old saying that there’s so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us. To the Christian disciple who’s concerned with the faults of another and ignores his own, Jesus applies the word “hypocrite,” a designation he previously gave only to the scribes and Pharisees.”

Is that inch of gratification, or any kind, worth losing a yard of integrity?

Praying at home or in church reconciles our relationship with God. But, also believe that it reconciles our relationship with ourselves. It renews, rekindles a right relationship with God. “It’s the right thing to do,” we tell ourselves. “I want to buy the right birthday gift for her.” “The answer lies right in front of you.” (Being left-handed, you can guess my relationship with God and myself.) One of my favorite expressions in preaching is always acknowledging that we are the creatures of a Creator-God. Any sin erases that understanding, that lifelong bond. We seem to forget and soon believe ourselves to be that the creator. (Small “c,” always the small “c”.)

From an anonymous poet,
When you get what you want in your struggle for self And the world makes you king for a day, Just go to a mirror and look at yourself, And see what that one has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or spouse Who judgment upon you much pass; The person whose verdict counts most in your life Is the one staring back from the glass.

That’s the person to please, never mind all the rest For he’s with you clear up to the end.
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test If the one in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years And get pats on the back as you pass.

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears, If you’ve cheated the one in the glass.


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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