The reflection on Day 27 focuses on God’s “everlasting promise” to us; one that empowers us to respond to God and God’s gift of life to us with an “unfading desire”. The reflection on Day 28 examines how our “attachment” to people and things other than God can become a stumbling block for us as we strive to live the most wonderful and abundant life possible. Today, we will focus on other types of attachment and their impact on us.
Our enemy often takes advantage of our weaknesses; when it fails to tempt us with the usual “attachments”, it switches to the tactic of turning our good intentions into fetters that prevent us from seeking God.
We need to understand one basic principle: God does not necessarily want us to do every single good deed. This is because the thoughts of God are not ours, neither are our ways God’s (ref. Isaiah 55:8-9). Therefore, before we decide to do a good deed, we must not assume that it is God’s will that we are the ones to carry it out. You see, we are not the only “instrument” in God’s plan. The same “good deed” may not be God’s will for us but perhaps, is His will for someone else. In fact, Jesus’ humility is revealed in His decision of not spending His time on earth on all the “good deeds”. Jesus understands that He could not do all the “good deeds” for everyone; therefore, He only focuses on the “good deeds” that His Father commands, which is the “better part” for Him! He has done everything according to His Father’s will; no more, no less.
God has already endowed us with the necessary strength to complete certain good deeds; as well, He has laid out the scope and schedule for completing these good deeds. We cannot discern the mission that God has entrusted to us, or the duties of the moment, simply based on what we see on the surface. Otherwise, we may unknowingly fall victims to our enemy’s snare and go against God’s will.
In addition, we must examine our motivation for doing these good deeds. For instance, our desire to be a “nice guy” or “nice gal” is never a valid motivation because this will lead us into the trap of “pride”. As well, we need to be aware that the “satisfaction” brought about by doing good deeds can also become an addiction for us
In fact, it is not uncommon to see many of us, as well as our families and friends, commit to helping others out of our “loyalty” to others; however, this often results in chaos or other unnecessary conflicts. Therefore, we must take heart of the considerations and discernment required for every good deed. For everyone who seeks “order”, this is one insight that cannot be overlooked.
Therefore, we may observe that the cunning and crafty devil will utilize both bad and good things to “distract” us; blinding us and turning us away from the choice of the “better part”.
Being deluded, we are living under the illusion of a “meaningful life”; spending all of our energy and time on “many things”; wasting our life away with our busy-ness.
These other types of “attachment” often become our “preference” in life; even becoming our “idols” or other “gods”, that lure our gaze away from God.
Therefore, we must nurture a unique sensitivity; an awareness that is imperative for us to “tame” our “preference”. One of the most effective ways is to practise an attitude of “holy indifference”.
“Holy indifference” is key to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Let us reflect on “THE FIRST PRINCIPLE AND FOUNDATION” of The Spiritual Exercises, #23:
The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the centre of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
Only when we fix our gaze on our Creator God as His creation and earnestly quest for our life’s purpose as such, we would be able to use the proper lens and attitude to tackle and face the things and choices that are presented before us.
We should choose and use the things that help us achieve our life’s purpose and give up or renounce those that don’t.
If we can maintain an attitude of “holy indifference” every moment of our life, we will be able to choose “the better part” with peace and impartiality; living out the true spirit of Christ and a sanctified life that can glorify God and benefit others!
If we strive to live by this spirit, we will be able to arrive at the state of “being indifferent to all kinds of worldly attachment”.
In this space, nothing can stop us from doing our best, without reservation nor regret, to fulfil whatever God has asked of us. Even when God asks us to remove ourselves from the work at hand, no matter how fruitful we may think it is or how unwilling we are to let it go, we will be able to accept God’s will and lay down the work with “holy indifference”, and await the next assignment from God.
If we can attain this in our lives, we will freely live at ease in the Lord and be ready to collaborate with Him to accomplish His “greater works” every moment of our lives.
Do you think that your constant “good deeds” or “good work” have become the other types of “attachment” or “preference” for you? Now, I invite you to examine your motivation behind your work.
Do you feel that your passion for “good deeds” has caused you to lose your “balance” and “order” in life, or has become your “distraction”, and consequently losing the ability to choose the “better part”?
Now, offer all your “desires” to do “good deeds” to God; ask God to grant you the spirit of “holy indifference” when confronting every invitation and choice in life.
My Father in Heaven, Abba! I now understand that in order to make the right decisions in life, not only should I not rely on my personal preferences, but also never to loosely interpret Your will. I recognize that I need to spend more time with You in prayers and meditation, to better know Your will and sharpen my awareness to truly understand what Your will for me is at the moment. Let me not rely solely on myself and do whatever I want, disregarding the consequences and Your feelings. Let the spirit of “holy indifference” be my guide in all my decisions in life. For this I pray, in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.