KATRA: Love the routine - Our God is a God of repetition

June 12, 2018

In a short amount of time the following Scripture verse passed before my eyes more than once: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Many years ago I grew to embrace the fact that if God showed something to me that it was meant for me, not for my relatives, friends or colleagues. Knowing that God speaks to each of us in a multitude of ways, my repeatedly seeing this verse signified that it was meant for more than mere reading, or rereading, of the text.

As believers, we recognize Scripture to be our primary source for reflection as we strive to live according to the will of God. We are always called to ponder the Word of God in our hearts.

As believers, we recognize Scripture to be our primary source for reflection as we strive to live according to the will of God. We are always called to ponder the Word of God in our hearts.


The idea of “looking to the interests of others” brings about an overwhelming feeling of gratitude in me for the incredible blessing of relationships. Not only the intimate ones with my spouse, family and friends.

Equally meaningful are those with every other person, near and far, because of our common humanity. Such contemplation is truly humbling and at times overwhelming. There is never a shortage of events going on in our world, neighborhoods, faith communities or families for us to invest prayerful time reflecting upon. How does God desire that each of us make a difference in the lives of others?

You may have heard the analogy of the cross, the sign of our faith, being described as follows: the vertical section of the cross symbolizes our relationship with God and the horizontal section of the cross symbolizes our relationship with each other. In its simplicity lies a basic truth that we do, in fact, live our lives in relationship with our Creator and with everyone else simultaneously.

St. Teresa of Calcutta asserted that, “The problem with our world is that we draw the circle of family too small.” When disciples of Jesus embrace their relationships with others, especially the poor, the marginalized, the traumatized and the ill, they are being “horizontal people” or people for others.

Each life is different as no two people are alike. Therefore, we each encounter God differently. Our faith is much more than mere knowledge of God, it’s about our relationship with Him. If you want to know God better, get to know people! God uses people to speak to us, to listen to us, to celebrate our joys and to comfort us in our sorrows.

We are the people God uses if we are open to doing His will. To know Jesus outside the Bible is what the Bible is all about. It is being Christ to others. Christ died on the cross with His arms stretched out horizontally. That image speaks volumes to how vast and wide our love is also meant to extend to others.

Reflect for a moment on the innate ability of young children to hear the same story told repetitively to them and then immediately and excitedly ask to hear it again! Children want their world repeated and unchanged. It provides a sense of security; they feel safe and comfortable. As we mature we seek to learn new and exciting things.

As adults, we tend to grow bored with repetition; in the news, at work and at home. We can even lack attention to Scripture because we have heard a particular passage countless times before. 

Over the years life will at times be exhilarating and at other times excruciating. Our own interests as well as the “interests of others” will fall into both categories. When we feel we can’t read the book, hear the Scripture, etc. one more time or even live life one more day, we need only remember that our God is a God of repetition. Every day He makes the sun rise and the moon set one more time. He never bores with providing for our needs over and over again. 

Yes, we know the story of Jesus. And yes, we live in a culture that is captivated by the newest and latest (fill in the blank). Having a routine is still a discipline that serves us well in many areas of life, especially in our prayer life. There are benefits to us individually and collectively when we regain an appreciation for the familiar. Our spiritual life is a gift from God that continues to mature as long as we recognize our need to fall in love again and again with all that is right and good in the world; all that is of God. 

Only then can we look beyond our own interests, to the interests of others. In doing so, we grasp the magnitude of God’s love for us and hence our ability to love and care for others in return.

Charlene Katra is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.