33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – 17th November
We live in a world where the opinions of others matter deeply. We can become fascinated by the latest developments whether they be about finance, politics, fashion or sport. Part of the fascination can be motivated by a deep interest in a particular aspect of life and how it can help us to give expression to who we are. Yet too often the opinions can just become chatter which prevents us from becoming more deeply engaged either with the person who is speaking or what they are speaking about. It just becomes background noise to an already crowded world vying for our attention. What is more difficult is the intrusiveness of technology which can start to notice what we are paying attention to and give us more of the same. Whether it is a search engine, an electronic device or a social media page we can find our direction being channelled into unexpected avenues and our ability to reflect being influenced by the amount of material on offer.
In such an information-rich environment how do we choose what to listen to? There can be a constant diet of bad news or misinformation that we find it hard to filter out and reflect on what is truly important and valuable. We find that people play with our emotions in ways which can cause us to react rather than reflect more deeply on what actually brings us life. We can be fed with a diet which is not truly nourishing and which does not settle well in our stomachs. There is a sense that we become consumed by what we hear rather than listening to a deeper truth.
This is where we need to look at what brings life and purpose to us. Where do we find meaning which is substantial and life-giving? This is where we need to work for that which brings hope, faith and charity into our life. This is called a rule of life which is not about rigid discipline but rather a way of reflecting on who I am and what I seek to become. The simplest example is the ancient command echoed by Jesus as the golden rule, “Love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength and all your soul and your neighbour as yourself.” This allows us each day to reflect on how we live this ancient truth which reflects that when we come close to God we come close to others and close to ourselves. We become people who live in a communion which seeks to be present to the God of all creation not the gods of our own creation.
Fr. John Armstrong