5th Sunday of Lent – 21st March
When someone asks us, what is the right thing to do we often turn to a book of rules or laws. When we ask how I am called to be the person that God desires me to be we need to know the heart of the person who wrote the laws. This is often the dilemma we encounter in daily life. In some ways, it is easy to know the law rather than the heart of the lawgiver. Often we encounter this in relationships whether it be in playing a sport, living our lives in the workplace or meeting people for the first time. The encounters that are part of daily life are called to be truly life-giving for ourselves and for others. We are called to become our best self which seeks to show authenticity and integrity.
Over the last few weeks, we witnessed this reality in the life of the nation and the world around the issue of sexual violence towards women. The question is how to build workplaces and social environments which allow women a place where they can feel safe and respected. I believe often we live with the contradictions where physical beauty is seeing people objectively and this causes a diminishment in treating a person with the dignity that they deserve. This is not only present in how we see the prevalence of the trivialisation of relationships that are lifelong and sustaining. Often it is the breakdown of trust between persons which causes people to live in a society that is underlaid by fear and anxiety. The question is not how we apply the law but how we are called to be people who are authentic and integrated.
I believe Richard Rohr noted this in rites of passage that men discover both their power and vulnerability. The fact that these rites of passage are not present as a regular part of our western culture can cause young men to become powerful without recognising their own vulnerability and the vulnerability of others. I can sense that the ability to have power without responsibility can cause many to treat others as objects to be possessed rather than people to be related to. Young men need to learn through prayer and reflection on how to live their lives as people of compassion and integrity.
When we come to the questions of the heart, we need to recognise that our prayer often deals with the internal conflicts that we all experience. When issues trouble us they call for a thoughtful and prayer-filled response which is for the good of the person and the good of the whole community. There can be a sense in which it is easy to demonise the other and to see our own life as the only thing that matters. Yet at the heart of the gospel is what seeds do we want to be planted within us which blossom to eternal life. I believe that bringing issues into the light allows us to recognise not only the truth of human life but also how we become people of compassion. This allows us to notice what needs to die within us so that we can become our best self.
Fr. John Armstrong