Saturday, September 25, 2010

Request from 3 weeks ago

I was asked to explain this:
that God doesn't give you what you want, God gives you according to who you are. Change who you are to change your life.
By itself, there are so many contexts in which this can be said. I would attempt to answer this in more general terms.

I hope that no one subscribes to the idea that God created us as a totally empty slate. Physically, we are genetically predisposed. Whether we have a tendency to be plump or svelte, tall or short, more easily become diabetic or less likely to develop cancerous cells are all written in our genetic code. There are some studies that show that the genes also predispose individuals. It would seem that our genes can tell us whether we tend to be extroverted or introverted. Our spiritual life is not determined by genes, although we could say that certain psychological tendencies are present because of our genetic makeup. God has a plan for all of us. In spiritual terms we use the word “vocation”. God calls us into existence. As a species, he has a destiny for all of us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace
which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
(Eph 1:3-6)

This part of one of my favourite Christological canticles by Paul. Before the foundation of the world. God has chose us as His sons; in other words, heirs. Heirs to? Heirs to His divine life. As individuals, he has specific plans when he made us. He made sure that we were equipped according to the plans he has for us. In this way he gives us according to who we are. We are all called to be his children. He would make sure that what we have would be that which would make us his children. I am going to use an analogy here. A good mother would give her six year old son a kitchen knife only when she is sure that he is able to use it properly. She must have taught him to use it in the proper way. Usually, mothers, even if they have that confidence, would be present when the boy is using the knife, to make sure that he uses it properly. No mother who truly cares, would give a knife to her eight or ten year old son unsupervised, when he is not trained. Do you think that God, who loves us perfectly, would give us something that might be harmful to us, or withhold something that we truly need?

When we ask something from God and we do not receive a favourable reply, it is usually because it would do us harm or that it was something unnecessary in His plan for us. We can argue and give reasons for what we want, but for those of us who have truly understood who we are, we can understand why God has yet to answer our prayers for the moment. It would be very fruitful to reflect in prayer the things we ask for. Were they really necessary to help us to be children of God in the way God has called us to be?

If we are frustrated with God, the usual reason is that we have not really understood who we are as God cildren. For some of us, this can be a great struggle. We usually want something that falls outside what God has in plan for us. Are we the eight year old who sees a six year old using a knife and wants to use the knife because we think it is cool, but did not consider the real necessity of using a knife?

The second statement is something that I would not use as a priest unless I have discerned together with the person concerned. This is because that statement, “Change to who you are to change your life” is loaded with so many variables and possibilities for misunderstanding.  First, it has no appeal to the grace of God.  It implies that we are in total control of every element in our lives. That is so pelagian! Second, it implies that there is a need to change ourselves to “who we are”; as if we could determine who we are easily enough and that a change in that direction would truly be a change of our lives. That is so atheistic! Can we discover who we are without appealing to the person who created us in the first place?

I would rather say something like, “Discover who you are in God’s eyes through prayer, and you will realise what you really need to ask God for.”  In prayer, we should begin to see how we are nothing as creatures when compared to the creator.  Humility is the first fruit.  Then we see the great dignity God has placed on us when he made us his children through Jesus Christ.  Because He has bestowed on us this dignity, we would be asking for a humble heart so that we could submit ourselves to His will.  After that, what else could we ask for?

1 comment:

PGA opl said...

Courage + Obedience to do His Will would be nice. Have to get past my internal cynic,and ask God.. you really want me to do this?

This tiny act and not some acts of greatness? To this insignificant creature? And to do this unseen.. And to do it with great love? And to do it for free ?

Oops stop, reality check, a servant is not greater than the master. Sign... grit... do. Serve the master. First with no love, then with a little more love...
and hopefully, finally, with great love and no rewards.

Little acts of love - 2 great saints St Therese and Blessed Mother Theresa

I wonder if it is all just attitude and by attitude, I mean being and doing it in the right Spirit - the Spirit of Love and Communion.