Before we know it, our retreat has arrived at Day 30, launching into its third part – the “Cornerstone of Our Lives”. In part two, the theme of “Priorities in Life” may have shocked you: Does it mean that everything in life, be it good or bad, is the same as the “many things” that come under the umbrella of “preference” and “attachment”; gradually evolving into “distractions”, resulting in “accumulation” and eventually becoming an “addiction”? Are we supposed to let go of everything? You may wonder, “Is everything in this world bad? Should we not do anything then? How could we make sense of all these?”
First of all, the key lies in our “attitude”, that is, the way we perceive and tackle these things will determine whether these things are good or bad for us. Secondly, even if their nature is good and our attitude is appropriate, this does not imply these “good deeds” are what God wants for us.
God has His own plan that is beyond human reasoning and understanding. Therefore, we must pray and discern with appropriate methods to fully understand God’s will.
Everything in this world is God’s “gift” for all humanity. For some people, certain things can lead them to God; however, the same things might not be of help or could become stumbling blocks for others that lead them astray and away from God. Therefore, we should not over-generalize but should choose, with care according to our personal circumstances and needs, and more importantly, following God’s will, the things that can help us fulfil our “life’s purpose” as God’s creation. Perhaps for some, health and longevity are vehicles that lead them to be closer to God; while for others, sickness and a brief life are their journey to get close to God and live in Him.
Therefore, if we live with what St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches, the spirit of “holy indifference” in everything we face, we will be able to hear and accept what God has prepared for us with a peaceful heart; a heart that never insists and is devoid of “attachment”. If we have the spirit of “holy indifference”, we would know that many seemingly “bad things” are actually “blessings in disguise”!
This is the key to live freely and with ease. With this attitude, we will be further empowered to accept all the “bad things” that happen to ourselves, those around us, or in the world, and not be troubled by them or be subjected to emotional turmoil.
When we are armed with such an attitude, we will be able to avoid falling into the trap of attachment. For instance, if we lack a spirit of holy indifference to “not desire health over illnesses”, we may be tempted to take measures that promote good health and prevent illnesses at all costs, including time and resources. You may ask, “Isn’t avoiding sickness part of human nature?” True! However, if we place our quest for health above our quest for God, spending more time and energy on health concerns, this goal of “staying healthy” will replace God and become our “idols” or “other gods”! You see, our health is really beyond our control because it is God’s. No matter how much time and energy we put into it, we will not be certain that we can sustain our health.
Our only certainty is that when we seek God and “place ourselves in His hands”, God will take care of everything else.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, Verse 33,
“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This passage is, indeed, the anchor of this Lenten Retreat for us; therefore, let us engrave it in our hearts. If we follow Jesus’ commands to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, that is, to choose “the better part”, all other things, that is, the “many things” that demand our time and energy, will be added unto us under God’s perfect arrangement. Is this not the most perfect result? Why do we still hesitate?
This has concluded our reflection on the theme of “letting go”, covered in the last 25 days. Let us lay down our “many things” and trade them in for the “one necessary thing”, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ who is the “cornerstone” of our life.
Among all the gifts God has given humanity, that is, all of creation, which ones may lead you to God and which ones may “hinder” you?
Do you recognize that you may have some attachments that do not seem to be problematic in nature, such as concerns with your health or appearance, but have cost you an excessive amount of time and energy?
Now, we invite you to meditate on the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, Verse 33: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). What is God saying to you through this passage?
Almighty and compassionate Abba Father, thank you for gradually revealing to me the most important things in life, distinguishing them from the less important and completely frivolous ones. In time, as the blinds over my eyes are gradually removed, I begin to find “order” among life’s “chaos”, and am able to restore the peace that You have bestowed on me through our Lord Jesus Christ. I now can see the light slicing through all of my restlessness and worries. However, I recognize that I still need to work hard to lay down the “many things” that have been my fetters; weighing me down with worries and busy-ness. I need to learn to prioritize my life so that I may earnestly seek You and Your kingdom. Lord, help my unbelief so that I can embrace You as the “one necessary thing” in my life. Abba Father, I am willing to take refuge in You with all my heart, all my soul, and all my will! I love You!
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.