A fortnight ago I read two contrasting articles. One article was talking about the recent Colorado shooting and comments were made about where God was in that event. There are people who cannot accept a loving God allowing this to happen.
The next article I read set me thinking. The writer suggested that we should not think that God is here to make everything nice and peaceful (these, incidentally are not the exact words of the writer but you get the idea). Hmmm… in my reflection to the question: where is God in this?, I do see the point the second writer was talking about. To take it further, I think it is the reality of God in each one of us that shapes our relationships with one another. To understand how God can be in this means looking first at ourselves. Is the God in me an angry person? Is the God in me a vengeful person? Is the God in me furious and raging to shoot people in their faces?
Or is the God in me at peace? Is the God in me compassionate? Is the God in me patient? Is the God in me loving?
In some ways therefore we have to take responsibility of our actions. Our forefathers had to take responsibility for their actions. Generations of unenlightened persons have raised up younger generations of angst, people who are self-centered, people who have not learned to love others as the holy men and women who had gone before us did. I stand among many who have failed to bring up children who are loving, other-looking, taking responsibility of God’s creations and not abusing them. I try to teach my children good values but they (with a mind of their own) are affected by what their peers do, and what society at large does and conform to.
I think the onus is on everyone to be self-aware, and to want to live harmoniously with one another. Let’s pray for a breath of fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit onto the face of the earth and let God’s peace and love reign.
May we find the breath of the Holy Spirit upon our being.
“Knowing God means knowing God as the Lord and giver of life; it means experiencing oneself as “called” into existence and, therefore, as loved. … Yet the point remains: we are not going to be certain of the basic calling of our lives (which we become sensitive to the more we reflect on the fact that we exist at all) than we are of God’s real presence in our lives and world. And we certainly should be concerned whenever vocational choices – particular responses to divine action in one’s life – with their reassuring routine and predictability start to feel more secure or certain than our awareness of the divine mystery itself. If a person’s relatedness to God becomes static, there may be a temptation to take refuge in one’s “vocation”, one’s work. But where our relatedness to God us dynamic and alive, then the concrete form of our vocational choices remains supple, even open to the possibility of being re-reformed.”
- above excerpted from “Seeking God in All Things: Theology and Spiritual Direction” by William Reiser, SJ, (2005), p.48.
How very beautifully Reiser had put in perspective the will of God I thought. Often a seeker comes into spiritual direction desiring to seek the will of God. This may not necessarily be discernment of life changing processes but it could just be a simple discernment of where one should be in church ministry. Once a decision is made it does not mean that the will of God on that decision is cast in solid stone. No, on the contrary the seeker should continue to be aware of God’s further actions in his/her life and be willing to be open to other instances where God could use his/her talents. Just as Jesus broke bread for many, God could multiply parts of one body in the bigger Body of Christ to fulfill fullness of life in His Kingdom.
May you remain open to God’s promptings even if you think you have found God’s will for you.
“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who YOU are.” – author unknown.
It was one of those forwarded mails that I received and the above quote this morning set me thinking. There is truth in this I thought. In the ordinariness of life if we make a comment that a couple display untoward behavior such as cuddling or kissing in a public train, this then brings up our personal values and principles. If we make a comment that someone dresses too sexily for church it can only mean that we place the church as a sacred place and therefore decorum in dressing and behavior ought to reflect the holiness of that place.
Think about the numerous occasions when you pass a comment and a judgement. Look at that comment that you have just made and ask: Who am I? What values or principles am I holding to? What beliefs do I subscribe to? As you point one finger towards the person/s or thing/s that you are commenting on, look at the three fingers that are pointing back to yourself. What do those three fingers stand for? Have I lived to the reality of who I am?
May you understand self as you judge others.
“Oh it wasn’t difficult at all. All I did was chip off the parts of the stone that are not David, and David just appears!” – Michelangelo on sculpting the statue of King David.
My thoughts on the above quote:
- It’s about pruning the parts of us that do not belong.
- It’s about being able to see negative spaces and letting those go (like letting go of bad habits).
- It’s about seeing beauty on yet to be carved clay or stone or a blank paper.
- It’s about perspectives and seeing things in a different light.
What else? Add to this list by adding your comments to this post. Read the quote by Michelangelo again slowly. Read it with new “eyes”. Hear it speak to you. What does it say?
May you find God in uncompleted works.
I am on travel in Switzerland. Travelling by train between cities yesterday I realized that I have to stop and stare. I am asked, by the inner spirit, to notice.
For days I clicked away on my camera – fabulous scenery, pretty flowers by the roadside, cloud formation, clear blue skies, icons and landmarks. But did I really see? When this thought arose I began to sit up.
Now I see the different faces of mountain slabs. I notice the shapes and sizes of boulders – big, small, ragged, smooth, odd sizes and cracked ones. I notice how the branches of some trees by the roadside swung to one side (probably due to the strong winds that come one direction towards them perpetually). I notice that yellow and white flowers are beginning to sprout amidst green fields (ah … summer is here). I thought about how these fields will be a glorious yellow in a few weeks time.
I see new green shoots on some tree branches. They look lovely … fresh, small and light green blobs on frail branches that were stoned cold by snow on them just months ago.
I am thankful for my eyes … to savour God’s created things. It does make a difference to be able to see and to appreciate deeply than to see without heart.
May you notice God’s created things with a grateful heart.
Last night at a prayer meeting someone shared about a friend’s anger at God for taking away her husband and that these days this friend is moping at home, away from social activities and away from church. This morning as I flipped through articles on a magazine-style app on my iPad I found an article on how someone coped with the loss of his daughter.
In moments like this – listening to someone’s grief – there is sadness and pain in my heart. Words like “God is with you; God is here; God loves (name of deceased) much and He does not want (name) to suffer any more here on earth …” do not help much for the person who is grieving. We all want our loved ones to be alive and to share our life here on this plane, even though it may not be a joy ride.
I reflected further after reading the article this morning and I recalled the story that was shared last night. What words could I offer to grieving persons? Assuming that they are open to words of comfort and help I would ask them to celebrate, to remember God’s gift of life to the deceased. Why remember? Well, just like in prayer we say that when in desolation we remember the consolations we had from God previously I think the same principle applies in grief when a loved one is taken away. I imagine that if the grieving family can celebrate and remember the deceased’s lived life – the laughter, the fun, the mishaps and escapades of the deceased, and so on – then the attention is diverted away from “Why is God doing this to me?” Remembering helps a person to notice that God was there. So can one forget God’s goodness? The latter question begs further self-reflection questions. Who am I and what is my relationship with God? Am I expecting my God to be Santa Claus? Do I see God loving me less in my grief? How is God seeing this whiny me now? Is God glorified though my self-exile (estrange from friends, church and pursuing hobbies)?
I do not want to negate the emotions that arise when a loved one dies but I am suggesting here that we look at the loss from another perspective – the lived life of the deceased and how we had shared meals, the fun, laughter and probably secrets whispered between us. We rejoiced that we had the opportunity to befriend this person, now dead.
May you find God in memories and in grief.
During dinner tonight I caught a bit of a weekday 7pm TV serial in the local Mandarin channel. There was this lady who apparently was zonked out from caring for a sick male patient in hospital. This man was her ex-boyfriend. He had found out that she was in love with another man. Not having followed the serial I guessed that this guy had hurt himself so badly that he had to be hospitalized. The lady felt guilty and masked herself just to look after him in hospital. When the guy found out that she had been doing that for his sake he begged her not to hurt him again and that she need not have done what she did, but as with soap stories the lady begged for forgiveness and said that she would do whatever he asked of her. Great. So you know the rest of the story? Well, you are right if you guessed that that the guy asked her to come back to him and she had no answer. The guy walked off and we can figure out that this is a difficult request for the lady to accede to.
Hmm…. But then I return to her “I will do anything you want” plea to the guy when she was begging for forgiveness. Doesn’t “anything you want” include returning to the ex-boyfriend? Did she thought this through before blurting out the line?
This reminds me of how we would like to say to God, “Thy will be done.” Alas, before we blurt this magnanimous line do we know first what is God’s will for us? I think if we don’t know God’s will for us then carrying out what He wants of us will be difficult. Jesus knew the will of His heavenly Father and meeting his Waterloo he fought to be free. However because he knew precisely what he came for he could say, “Thy will be done”. Jesus’s will was aligned with his heavenly Father.
Returning to our weak “Thy will be done” think about someone asking for the healing of another. After verbalizing the prayers for healing the intercessor says, “Thy will be done unto (name of the person in need of healing).” If the intercessor and the person to be healed do not know what God’s will is for the latter how are they to accept come what may. If the person is healed praise be to God. But if the person is not healed then accepting the unfortunate outcome is fraught with anxiety, guilt, loss of faith, why and the dilemma of where is God. Thus we should all strive to know or at least understand God’s will in our life. We could be sent to be a blessing for others. We could be sent to be the killjoy for another person so that the person may learn how to love. We could be sent to learn how to live with a greater faith. We could be sent to be the catalyst of change in society. Whatever it is we are sent. For good or for bad we have to find out about ourselves. This can be done by building a closer relationship with God.
May you find God’s will for you.
Disciples are gospel people who introduce and reintroduce themselves and others to the person and power of Jesus over and over again. A disciple of Jesus never stops learning the gospel, relating in the gospel, and communicating the gospel.
By Jonathan Dodson
As I reflected on the above quote I saw how Christ-ians (people who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior) should continually profess Jesus the Christ. Sure, we can’t be good and Christ-like all the time, but we should always remember that we must get up and continue the journey with Jesus. Remember how Jesus fell under the weight of the Cross on his way to Calvary? We should not give up hope.
Likewise, we may have a love-bickering relationship with Jesus. During bad times or during times when the Lover does not seem to please us, we may sulk a little but we must remember to move on and forward, holding on to the hands of Jesus. You see the “reintroducing” bit in the quote above?
Each day I continually pray to love Jesus more. May you too find the love for Christ in your heart.
In recent days there have been news items about movie director James Cameron’s dive in a specially built vessel to explore the Mariana Trench, one of the deepest parts of the earth. Some critics have lambasted this as a waste of money but to Cameron it was an adventure of a lifetime. The construction of the vessel took years and lots of money.
I am thinking of another kind of dive this morning. Jesus asked Simon and the fishermen to put out into deep waters (Luke 5:4) for a catch. A way to look at this invitation by Jesus is for us to go deep within ourselves to find the God who resides in us, to find our Calcutta (read my previous post about this), and to find out who we really are. A priest said to a group of us prayer guides, “Prayer is God revealing you to you.” I have lived this reality. This sort of prayer is not the set prayers of Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be or your lists of requests to God but the type of prayer that could reveal who you are requires silence, quiet meditation and contemplation, waiting, noticing, listening, openness to want to be transformed and more returning to the Lord in prayer. Praying with Scripture is a good place to start. I think I will offer a post or two on how to pray with Ignatian Contemplation for those of you who want to learn how to pray with Scripture. Watch this blog!
May you find who you are in prayer.
“God does not call everybody to work with the poor. God does not call everybody to live poor like he calls us (the Missionaries of Charity) to. But God does call everybody to a Calcutta. You have to find yours.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
God does call everybody to a Calcutta. How apt I thought as I read this quote. How unusual to describe God’s Will as our Calcutta. I like it.
To begin looking for that Calcutta (a.k.a. God’s Will for us) I think we look first for our God-given gifts and talents. What have we offer to our families, our neighbours, our friends in need, our society, and the world at large? We begin small but ain’t what a journey towards goodness is about? God does not call us to works that are beyond our capabilities. Often we feel we are not capable of the task before us, we feel insufficiently equipped, we feel stuck. However, these could be limitations that we set upon ourselves because we feel we are not good enough. But remembering that God made everything good (Genesis 1:31) hopefully is grace enough for us to move forward.
For someone who is discerning avenues of work or ministry that one can go into I would like to offer this suggestion: take a step forward, dip your foot into it, experiment, pray, ask for God’s graces, reflect and check back. How are you doing? Is what you are doing giving you life? Is what you are doing giving life to others. Is what you are doing bringing you closer to God?
As you explore God’s Will for you may you find your own Calcutta.