When you’re born into Christianity, you’re told to act more Godlike. Telling a kid to act more Godlike is like expecting someone to learn a foreign language in a classroom. It’s hard.

It’s easier to learn another language if you live in the culture where it’s spoken and act like you belong there. That’s what I got out of this Sunday’s readings. Taken together, these three readings teach us a lesson in speaking God’s language.

Our first reading from Malachi indicates how important it is to speak God’s language so he recognizes us as his. As fallen creatures, our primary language is pride. But this reading tells us what happens to the proud:

“The proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.

As proud creatures, how can we shake our fallen nature? By rising to God’s; by realizing that his word is a universal language. For example, as God’s people we are called to “fear” him. Fear means “respect.” That word is our saving grace.

“But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays,” this reading concludes.

In the second reading from Paul to the Thessalonians, we learn the meaning of the word “respect.” Paul teaches that if we are to respect God, we must respect each other. In this reading Paul tells us to repeat after him.

“Brothers and sisters:
You know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day
we worked, so as not to burden any of you.”

Today’s gospel completes our language lesson. Jesus tells us we will come to speak God’s language without any effort at all as long as we live it. But how we live it will be the true test of whether we’ve learned it.

“They will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name,” Jesus says.
“It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”

God’s language is easy to learn because he places it in our hearts. However, it requires daily repetition for us to stay fluent. That’s the purpose of prayer, and God calls us to live our lives as a prayer. As Jesus concludes in today’s gospel, ”By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”