A Christian’s outer life

Friends in Christ, in the gospel today, the Lord heals this deaf man – another miracle. The people were seeing these miracles – how Jesus handled himself, his poise, his wisdom, and power – and this lead them to say: ‘He has done all things well.’
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Jesus Christ lived as the perfect man, and therefore to be around him, to see him, was to see a person who had that ideal balance of the virtues, and in this we might say he had perfect ‘decorum.’ In older books on the spiritual life, they would often speak of how one should handle oneself in various situations and encounters. St. Thomas Aquinas devotes some serious ink to this subject which he calls ‘modesty in our outward movements.’
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We are meant to live rightly on the inside for sure, and then to conduct ourselves with decorum on the outside. Sometimes delicate situations arise and they should be handled with sensitivity. In the gospel we see how Our Lord handles the situation with this man who is deaf and dumb. Notice what he does. A deaf person can easily feel embarrassed around crowds; but Jesus shows the most tender consideration for his situation: it says that he took him aside from the crowd in order to help him, privately. In everything our Lord did, he shows the grace and refinement that we should seek.
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Today, it is not uncommon to see people who are boisterous, impolite, or even crude – they display no subtlety or tact. But if we are to imitate Jesus, we must conduct ourselves better.
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In his book ‘tour of the Summa’ Mgsr. Glenn says that this sense of decorum should inform all our outward behavior, even how we dress. Those who dress in a very sloppy way do not have this modesty about themselves, and it conveys a vulgar approach to living. St. Ambrose says, the way we dress should not go strongly against custom, provided the custom is decent. And our clothes should be clean and ourselves clean.
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Thomas Aquinas tells us that we need this decorum even in how we recreate. In leisure activities or sports or games we should have courtesy toward others and really participate, without being addicted to the game.
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This virtue also calls us to avoid ostentation or show; after Christ healed that deaf man, we see how he tells the people to say nothing about the miracle; he knew they would tell, but he wanted to teach the apostles to be reserved, and shun any pretention.
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Having a gracious attitude in how we handle ourselves in all situations will show a real refinement worthy of a disciple of Christ.

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