17th Sunday of the Year – 30th July
There is often a subtle distinction between choosing what is right and wrong and what is good and evil. The first deals with observable acts which can be seen to be right or wrong according to a moral code or enacted law. The second deals with the unseen motivation of the person which seeks to discover what is good or evil.
A person can do the right thing with evil intent, just as a person can do the wrong thing with good intent. This is what Solomon prays for as he seeks to take leadership of the people of Israel. It is not just about being knowledgeable but also about being wise. How do you apply the particular law for the particular purpose it was intended to govern?
There is probably a whole book that could be written and have been written about the principle of discernment. Essentially though, it is about the head and the heart acting in union for the good of the person and the good of the community. Jesus often taught this as well, it is not sufficient to know only the law but also to know the heart of the law giver.
We need to seek for that pearl of great price which draws us deeper into relationship with God and with the community we are called to be part of. This visible and invisible reality is what binds us together.
Discernment is not just about making good decisions but about making wise choices about who we will become. They bring a different quality and tenure to our lives. They help us to discover that the things we do flow out of who we seek to become and who we become shapes the things we do.
Fr. John Armstrong
“The intellectual quest is exquisite, like pearls and coral. But it is not the same as the spiritual quest. The spiritual quest is on another level altogether. Spiritual wine has a subtler taste. The intellect and the senses investigate cause and effect. The spiritual seeker surrenders to wonder.” (Rumi Wisdom; trans. Timothy Freke)