Challenges make life interesting…overcoming them makes life meaningful
“Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come?” This is a great question for each one of us. Jesus doesn’t answer with a straight answer, but creates a web of intrigue.
At various times in our lives we ask ourselves the question: “Is this the right time? … to leave home? … to get married? … to start my own business? … to buy a house? etc.
By mid-life the questions change: “Is this the right time?…
… to retire? … to downsize? … to get religion? etc.
There is a line in the Gospel that, I always thought, meant some of the Apostles doubted Jesus. “When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.”
Perhaps doubting is still part of the answer. But I feel, now, that the thrust of that sentence indicates something we can all connect with: they were confused! What do we do now?!
All of us are challenged with several critical moments in our lives, and age does not always make it easier to select an answer! We need a framework for making difficult decisions.
Most of the above questions are real and practical, but they mostly focus on ourselves: as though we have to rely on our own wits and efforts.
And, to a large extent, God does require us to use our wits and efforts.
However, above our wits and efforts is an invisible force that we CAN connect with: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses…”
Through our religious practice and daily prayer, this higher force/ power CAN “give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed… may he enlighten the eyes of your mind.” The word CAN means we need a relationship with that higher power, through community.
Having the confidence to make decisions is a true gift for all of us. So many times, as younger people, our decisions are only for a short time frame and, so, we are constantly moving between happiness, boredom and fear of the future.
To be truly happy we must make a commitment that is for the foreseeable future and beyond! Marriage is one of those commitments, religious vocations are another.
Choosing a professional career is sort of a commitment because of the amount of time invested in training. But it’s not quite the same, because we can more easily drift into other careers.
My point is this: making decisions will be a lot easier for us if we have aligned ourselves with something greater than ourselves. For us, as Christians, we join ourselves to Jesus Christ as a model of how to live a good life that leads to true and lasting joy in life.
When living at home, a relationship with mum and dad is easy: we are always present. However, when we leave home – or home leaves us – we must make more definite steps to stay connected. Similarly, we need concrete actions each day/ week to stay connected with God.
Today, as we celebrate Jesus ascending into Heaven, we should ask ourselves the question: is this the time to build a stronger relationship with God, through Jesus Christ?
Jesus ascended into heaven to give us space to become the best we can be. Jesus even said: you will do even greater works! Amazing stuff. God has great faith in you and I.
Next question: how do I build a stronger relationship with God? One way that helps is to keep asking ourselves: what would Jesus do/ say if He was standing next to me right now?
One question I think Jesus would do/ say is this: how will your decision affect other people?
Will it promote life and/or build up the community? Or will it hurt some people? Sometimes it’s not easy to promote life and avoid hurting others. Just do the best you can!
I saw a wonderful MEME recently that said: Challenges are what makes life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
It’s OK to make decisions that benefit ourselves. That is part of God’s plan for each of us. But the best decisions for us, always involve a benefit for others.
One way of promoting life for others and ourselves is to consider our impact on the Environment. I encourage each of us to search for the Pope’s message 5 years ago: Laudato Si has received praise from religious and non-religious people alike. It’s a framework that can help open our eyes to a better world that needs our individual input. Happy Feast!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI