Monday, August 14, 2017

Going through trials with a resolve moulds and shapes us to become the best versions of ourselves in heaven’s future glory.

Nobody in the right frame of mind anticipates trials in life with glee and anticipation.  All of us hope that our lives can be as smooth sailing as a yacht on a calm sea with the wind always in our favour.  However, this is more a rarity than a reality as the vast majority of our lives are more like seas that encounter the occasional squall, dark and ferocious gale-force winds and weather systems that threaten to capsize our boat called life. 

Good sailors train for every possible scenario that a ship out at sea can face.  Only a foolhardy sailor will venture out into the vast ocean with only knowledge of how to handle the vessel in calm and tranquil waters.  Sooner or later, nature will reveal that surprises will show up at the most inopportune and unexpected of moments, and it is only the truly weathered shipman that can successfully keep a storm-tossed vessel upright without veering too much off-course.

I was rather enlivened and enchanted with the many responses and reactions to my blog entry last week, where I announced that due to an imminent collapse of one of my hips, I had to undergo a procedure that would help to arrest and alleviate the pain I was enduring.  Comments poured in steadily through the week encouraging me to be strong, assuring me of their prayers for me.  I am deeply touched by such a tremendous outpouring of support from all corners of the globe, and it would be a gargantuan effort to thank each one personally, partly because I have not personally met so many of these kind souls.  The reality that we are all part of the Body of Christ is so clear and evident in times like these.

Quite a few of the comments that came from that post asked me what it was that enabled me to stand strong in the face of such adversity in life.  While I would be the first to say that it is nothing short of the grace of God, I do realise that it does take grace to respond to grace.  The fact that many know about this, but are still gripped with fear and anxiety when faced with trials in life is clear indication that there is a certain inability in many to respond to grace.  One thing for certain is that when we are living in a state of grace, we are giving God the greatest deference that we can, offering our lives to be used for His glory.  Grace will never force itself on us, but only asks that we cooperate with its outpouring.

In a couple of days’ time, we will observe the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  What this solemnity celebrates is much more than just the fact that after her life on earth was over, that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.  The theology behind this holds for each one of us the great promise of our own potential for glorification as our blessed mother if we but avail ourselves to the grace that God wants to bestow on us.  While we are not born without original sin and find ourselves constantly making the foolish choices to sin rather than to live in grace, each time we make the conscious choice of wanting to live in grace, we uncover more and more our potential for heaven’s glory – the glory that awaits each one who is the beloved child of our heavenly Father. 

I think I have mentioned it before on some previous blog that the version of ourselves that we will be in heaven is the best version of ourselves that we can ever hope to attain.  As we live out our lives now, we slowly uncover the glorious potential that we are made for.  The trials that we go through in this life are the ways in which we slowly uncover our heavenly versions of ourselves.  So many have asked me what spurs me on to live with such positivity when I face in my life the physical challenges that seem to afflict me with such constancy.  It is precisely this – that I choose to see these so-called trials as my training to shape and mould my spiritual self so that the false-self becomes whittled away, little by little, not unlike the way a woodworker using a whittling knife trims away the parts of a wooden stump or branch to reveal the ideal image that he wants to end up with.


Michelangelo was asked how he created masterpieces like the Pieta and the statue of David from a single block of marble.  His response was something that I hope every person reading this blog will impress on his or her minds.  He said that when he stands before the raw and uncut piece of marble, he envisages the image that he wants to carve out of it.  All he does, he said, is to chip away what is extraneous and doesn’t belong to the final image he has in his mind, resulting in the beautiful masterpiece which was embedded in the original block.

This is something that we should apply assiduously to our spiritual lives as well.  At our baptism, God sees in us the great potential of our heavenly glory.  But we have our whole lives to hand our lives over to him to have him, the master craftsman of our souls to hack, chip and remove what is foreign to the glorious versions of ourselves that awaits us in the eternal life of heaven.  Mary needed no whittling away, no removal of anything extraneous.  Her earthly form was her heavenly form.  Ours is a constant work in process. 

The reason why I am joyful at the prospect of an earthly purification is that I know that God is doing something that my bodily eye cannot see.  It is my faith that assures me that this suffering is a good that I cannot yet understand. 

Married couples will stand to benefit greatly if they see that their marriages are this shaping process, where if they willingly and lovingly hand over their lives to each other, they allow the other spouse to remove what is preventing the exposure of the best versions of each other.  Of course, this will always entail a humility and submission that the ego stubbornly resists.  If only more married couples see this in their married life, they will face the daily challenges of marriage with a new vista.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary’s Assumption, may we ever keep in mind that the glory that Mary enjoys right now is the glory that awaits each one of us as we submit our lives to the master craftsman of our souls, God himself.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Fr Luke, for letting Christ work through you to inspire us all, as we face our own trials and pains. To be reminded that we are a constant work in process, to avail ourselves to God's grace and surrender ourselves to be used for his glory.

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  2. It is the most painful process as nobody will understand his or her journey that the Lord had pre- plan long time a ago before they are born........ the trial that the Lord want to mould the individual. At time will be judged by others as a not sound of mind.

    The freedom is: do we still want to dance with joy in this trial journey?

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