To survive when chaos comes…be faithful to our responsibilities to give us purpose & hope
This last week revealed shocking news around the world: with violence in many places and a second wave of the pandemic affecting some countries who thought “all is well”. Some of us might feel afraid or depressed. Don’t be. Let us be who we should be. Sometimes people have to lose what they treasure most, to be reminded of its value.
So, how can God’s Word help us this week? The first thing we notice in the First Reading is Solomon summarising his responsibilities; and the challenges he feels in responding to them.
From this we learn how to start: In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, we must focus on our responsibilities: what is my duty? This will give us a direction and a purpose: without which we can easily fall into despair.
The next step is to try and NAME what challenges we might have in fulfilling those responsibilities: when we name something, we can then work out a solution.
This also gives us purpose, and an opportunity to involve other people.
So often our world is pushing people to “do your own thing”, “do what makes you happy”, etc. This is good up to a point: but we also need to remember that we all feed from the same community. So, if the community is sick, so will all the members of that community.
Therefore, “doing what makes me happy” should follow after “do what is necessary to help the community stay healthy.” Or at least doing both con-currently (at the same time), might be a better way to put it. For every privilege, there is always a responsibility.
However, this can sound boring, or too demanding! But the reality is, that by contributing to the community – fulfilling our responsibilities – we find meaning, purpose and pride in our lives. Usually, the people who are unhappy in life are those who are self-centred, and not interested in the well-being of our community.
Community, of course, starts with our families: most of which are not perfect and, occasionally, we wouldn’t mind trading it in for a new one!! But that will happen in almost every family. We change to another one and, soon enough, there would be other issues.
What can help us overcome challenges and disappointments with our families, is to reflect on today’s Gospel message: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.”
What this teaches us most of all, is the sense of 100% commitment. If we want our families to be places where we feel happy, and are happy to come home to, we must commit ourselves to it 100%: when we make decisions, we ask: how will this affect the family?
How many mothers, in particular, are wonderful examples of this 100% commitment: In the villages I witnessed mothers being faithful while others in the family were not.
Although they looked tired, they always too pride in their family and managed a smile.
Can we try to increase commitment to our families and struggle with it for 3 months? And then reflect on what happened to the family and to us? I’m sure God will bless your efforts. Remember: start with our responsibilities, then plan to overcome any challenges.
Finally, let us look at the last analogy Jesus used: the drag-net. Can we reflect how this might be used by us to think about our environment? Are we committed to our environment? Do we value nature or just use it? Like family life, our environment requires our commitment: small things make a difference.
What are the good/bad things in our environment? Let us depart with a desire to commit ourselves more deeply to our families, and the environment. Both of which will determine our levels of happiness in life.
The choice is ours: God is standing by, ready to help if we choose to ask, and if we commit ourselves 100%. Church is not just a place of worship to an unseen God,
but a bubble of fresh air to realise that the air outside is not always healthy for us.
In that sense, as boring as many priests may be, we still get a chance to glimpse the TRUE way that life needs to be lived, in order to find the Treasure of Heaven on earth.
Finally, in the Second Reading, St Paul reminds the Roman people and us, today, that if we trust in God’s ability to bring good out of bad situations, we will always have hope.
The weeks ahead may be a little “rough”, but pray for the strength to stay positive, so that we can all witness God transforming the world through our little steps: one at a time!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI