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Tags and Labels


Have you ever noticed someone’s shirt tag sticking out at the back of their collar? As long as I know the person, I will probably tell them or help them tuck the label back inside.
 
I got to thinking about those tags and labels that tell us sizes, brand names, composition, and, often, washing and drying instructions. There may even be more than one tag on an article of clothing, and tags might be presented in more than one language.
 
Imagine if each of us had a label or tag or two to offer information about us and our best possible spiritual presentation and care. Maybe the tags would and should always stick out to remind ourselves especially about these vital details.
 
What would our tags say? First and foremost, our designer is God, who made us in his image.
 
We are trying to be 100 percent Christian, but that isn’t always so easy. We try to have a large heart and pray it will not shrink. Verses from Psalm 51 can help:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,and cleanse me from my sin…
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.(verses 1-2, 10)

 
Proper care would include daily scripture and spiritual reading, maybe journaling, and definitely endeavoring to love others as we love ourselves. Just as with certain fabrics, we can develop some wrinkles that have to be straightened out. We can pray and ask Jesus to help us. We remember the prophecy of Isaiah 40:4 that is repeated in Luke 3:5:

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. (Is 40:4)

 
As some labels indicate, certain things are “best if used by ….” We are at our best if we stay close to Jesus through reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Our labels would remind us that we need spiritual nourishment in order to grow. Forgiveness is a wonderful stain remover! We also have other believers to help us live up to our labels. We read in 1 John 1:7:

….but if we walk in the light as he (God) himself is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son
cleanses us from all sin.

 
I think if I were to wear a tag or label to build up myself and others I meet along my way, it would contain these joyful instructions from Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 
Just remember, our Father’s heart is X-tra Large and, in his mercy, he often uses the Gentle Cycle with us. I challenge you to write your own labels! Tag! You are it!
 
Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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