Friday, October 16, 2009

Keyhole Spirituality

There was an interesting article in the papers some time back, about how the phenomena of keyhole surgery is fast gaining popularity amongst patients who require invasive surgery. Basically, what this kind of surgery entails is the incision of one or two small holes (hence the term keyhole) near the area to be treated, allowing for an entry point of a plethora of instruments ranging from cameras, to other operating instruments to work on the organ that requires treatment. This article stated that more and more people are opting for this kind of procedure principally because of the small incisions made, resulting in less discomfort and a much better cosmetic result. In short, the benefits and advantages far outweigh the costs involved.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, don’t we sometimes wish that God would use a similar technique to reach into the ailing areas of our lives and perform a painless, transformative surgery with minimal discomfort and scarring, but with good cosmetic result? In other words, what most of us prefer is akin to keyhole spirituality, where we want God to make the smallest possible incision in our lives, with little pain, minimal suffering and hopefully no necessity to give up or change any of our negative attitudes in our own lives. And from this, expect to reap positive results like becoming a transformed people embodying the virtues of Christ.

However, the disconcerting truth is that the opposite is more a truism. It is the people who have done the hard work of really looking squarely at their own lives, recognizing their inner demons and personal weaknesses who are the ones who come out of it much closer to God. They have a deeper appreciation of a shared brokenness, and so, are no longer finger-pointing and mean spirited. It is often the very people who fight shy of doing the hard work of inner self-discovery, to take that necessary inward-journey who end up with little progress made in their spiritual lives. Indeed, what St Paul wrote to the Corinthians is so true – thin sowing does mean thin reaping.

Maybe, we need to see our pains and struggles in a new light, that it is God making some headway into our character formation through the major open wounds that we find so painful. And then perhaps it will finally dawn on us that it is we who have been looking at life through a keyhole, and missing the big picture of the Kingdom of God.


  1. This reminds me of the TV programme "Surgery Saved My Life" aired on Wednesday nights from 12.30 to 1.30 am which never fails to fascinate and inspire me like your homilies, Father Luke.

  2. Sometimes I think God throws salt into these open wounds. And the greatest struggles I have are the ones of God.

  3. Yes, Father I fully agree. It's the big and difficult times that leaves deep marks in our spiritual lives. In the struggle, pain and wounds we grow and become wounded healers. God's awesome plan for the people He loves so dearly. J Khaw.

  4. Thank you for reminding us that God meets us in our moments of great love and in the times of our immense sufferings. For the latter, thank you for assuring us that God is the surgeon who is compassion, mercy and love (And not some cosmetic doctors who used untried methods). SLim.

  5. Dear Fr

    It’s been almost 3 weeks since you left our parish and I sure miss the way you deliver your homilies and celebrate mass. I’m thankful that we can still enjoy your reflections on your blog.
    I just saw a segment of “Nigella Express” whipping up delicious “quick meals” using all the short-cuts and ready-prepared ingredients. Jamie Oliver does the same in another programme. Gone are the days when you hear of someone painstakingly preparing each ingredient from scratch, like the way some of our mothers and grandmothers would still do. Somehow, for me, the level of appreciation for a cook who uses instant “rempah” to one who prepares it from scratch, is incomparable. I would somehow have more respect and appreciation for the effort and love that the latter took. I feel it’s the same with God – no pain, no gain. I can’t think of any Saint who had it easy either and they all made it!

  6. there's a difference betw being invited to enter/embrace suffering & asked to suffer - I don't think God wants us to suffer but He wants us to embrace as to better understand our mission here( today being Mission Sunday)

  7. Hi Father,
    Thankful are we at OLSOTS to have the privilege of listening to your homily on Mission Sunday and the very succinct message it carried. Perhaps you may wish to give a brief rendition here of your first ride in a sports car that is quite useless without the powerful fuel to make it run, for the benefit of your flock at IHM, before you leave for your pilgimage.
    Do take us with you in your heart fueled with the love of our Lord Jesus.
    icJiu (ic Jesus in u),
    ps: skeptical were we not at first with the torchlight until the children, with the help of the Holy Spirit, showed us how much they could collect for the victims of the disasters. Praise the Lord!