Monday, June 9, 2014

How do we react in a godly way in tense situations?

Every one of us gets caught in these moments when the worst of us can suddenly emerge.  It could be in a traffic situation where someone cuts us off rudely and without warning, posing a danger to our safety.  It could also be a conversation we were having with a friend or colleague that somehow turned ugly and ended up with two people no longer talking civilly to one another.  No one really gets into these situations with the purpose of making life difficult and painful for the other person (or for ourselves) but that is how it seems to have panned out.  More often that now, we wish that we could have more prudence in dealing with the situation, and that is also often a thought made in hindsight.

Jesus was never really caught acting badly in the many tense situations that he faced in his earthly life.  Even on that day when he was awkwardly presented with the woman caught in the very act of committing adultery by the accusing authorities who had the intention of catching Jesus out, we see him being able to handle it so well that it turned out good for the woman and the tables turned on the accusers. Jesus was able to act in such a calm, collected and nonplussed way was because he was truly living every second of his life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture and tradition tells us that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of counsel.  In theological parlance, counsel perfects the virtue of prudence.  What is prudence but good and balanced judgment, or what some people may simply call common sense, which is oftentimes a misnomer because it hardly is something which is common in the crude sense of the word.  But counsel happens when prudence meets divine wisdom to result in something that doesn’t take life away, but gives life instead.  It is called a gift because it cannot be taught.  It is something valuable that is only given by God.  Strangely, we either have it, or we do not. 

But that does not mean that we cannot ask for it in earnest.  Many of us ask for so many things in our prayer life, which is not a bad thing in itself.  At its basic level, when we do ask, we are reminded to rely on God for what we need in life.  However, not many of us ask ourselves the question whether or not what we are asking is of God’s will and if it is something that would make a holy difference in our lives. 

The Church celebrated its birthday yesterday the Solemnity of Pentecost, where we are enlivened so powerfully by the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the community.  On our part, what was required was a hungering and a yearning for that great gift of the empowering.  Yet, when we look around us, do we see much (or any) signs of being empowered and enlivened?  If evidence of such signs is hardly seen, it could well be that we have not yearned and prepared a place in our hearts for that filling to be made.  Just like so many things in life, if space is not created for a filling to be made, no matter what happens, nothing is going to get in. 

God certainly wants to give us the gifts that are necessary to become co-transformers of this world, but he may well be casting pearls before swine if we are hardly anticipating the reception of such gifts, with counsel being one of them.  Perhaps it is no wonder that so many of us find it a struggle to live godly lives each day.  We do not ‘raise our eyes to heaven’ enough in prayer, in the way that Jesus did before saying what he did, and doing what he did in those tense situations. 

If we only have our eyes trained on this world, or worse, on ourselves and worry about what others think of us, there is hardly any room for prudence to grow and be received well in our hearts. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Fr Luke,

    Ignorance is bliss. Knowledge is power. We can't have both. One offsets the other. On the face of it, bliss sounds like it is by far the better choice. Unless it is sustainable, what good is happiness if it has no anchorage. If the only way to sustain it is to remain ignorant, we can see the problem awaiting. Power is not as much fun or as comforting. With power comes responsibility and that can be a real pain. But then, knowledge is also a form of wisdom and wisdom can be most soothing.

    Yet, the truth is a sharp sword.

    We don't ask to come to this blue planet in the first place. When we arrived on
    Earth, we're surmounted with petty disputes and difficulties that seem to dog us so much of our time. This surely was never part of the plan. Nor, certainly, it was ever a part of anyone else's plan. Yet we all ended up in such a pickle, leading lives that don't do full justice to our very being. Ironically, we're given a rather clear and wonderful reminder of what really matters and why.

    Perhaps, one may say there appear a fairy with a magic wand that turn up, to see how much magic of our own we can muster - a situation we are exceedingly keen to improve. But the more we look at it, though, the more we can see only a long, hard road to travel down. No wonder we feel reluctant to make the journey and want to find a miraculous solution. But if we actually set our mind and determination to it, we will find the path of happiness much easier and more enjoyable than we ever expected it to be.

    In times of anxiety, fear and tense situation, the Christians mediate and pray for signs of empowerment. We open our heart and mind so that the space can be filled with the gifts of inner wisdom.

    We will eventually climb to the height of our inner wisdom and extend the arm of our personal power (endowed by the invisible power of God) to summon strength and clarity, and become a towering beacon of hope that others will flock towards from far and wide. We will be able to offer advice, consolation and command respect, even from those who normally disagree with us.

    And to make that happen? Just one thing is needed. A willingness, first, to face an issue from our past/present that still pains us when we think about it. Find that courage and all else we need, will find us!

    Thank you for the awesome passage.

    May God Bless You

    Faith & Love,

    T. Dior