It is at this point that some of us react: suddenly we get angry, impatient, resentful, or sullen. Then, we press even harder, as though doing that will get us to where we want to be, or to ac-complish what we want to accomplish, any faster.
The truth is that there is nothing wrong with wanting a path with no obstacles, no problems, and no suffering; but for many the problem is not that what is ‘out there,’ the realities of mod-ern life, is causing us the most trouble. The root cause of our discontent is much closer than that: It is the ego-driven attach-ment to our own way of seeing, interpreting, and managing real-ity, life, that has us constantly weighing and comparing the de-tails of life to the details of our own script for how life should be, to see if life is acceptable to us—or not.
Filtering out life—and thus other people—this way through our narrow perceptions, prejudices, fears and aggression always de-mands of life that it conform to a certain way—our way—so that then, and only then we can assign to it an approval, a value, a meaning and a worthwhile-ness.
The irony is that acting out this way, rather than opening us up to the beauty and mystery of our life, and to serenity, actually keeps us beholden to our feeling of discontent, for when we fight life, and judge it, we end up distancing ourselves from the one thing we swear we love and want to share with others: Our life, and thus from the intimacy we naturally have with Him who is the ground of our being, God, the creator and redeemer of the world, who has called us all into His Love, into Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as our discontent with life, and our fears and prejudices and impatience are found to have roots within us, so does the real cause of our being, God, who is the real truth and the only truth about us, lie so near us that there is no distance between us and all that God wishes us to do.
As Moses says to the Israelites today: “It is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts, you only have to carry it out.” To live in the righteousness of the Lord we only have to practice it, do it, and trust it.
Once we trust that which is natural to us, God’s love, we release all that has kept us weary, blind and fearful, prejudices and in a hurry, and in its place is what God has put in us, what he has designed us to be and do: His Mercy, His Compassion, His Love which has no bounds, is in no hurry, judges not, and fights not, for it has no need for enemies nor to be right at the expense of the dignity of others.
The truth is that each of us is capable of doing great things in the service of the Lord: if only we would trust, and thus accept, what God our Father has planted in our hearts, his message of Truth which, when we believe it, always produces the fruit of Mercy and Compassion, that is, His love, which always and everywhere glorifies the Lord and praises Him.
The truth is also that many of us are stuck in our own stubborn way of seeing the world and treating others. So how to get un-stuck? How to break free of what has robbed us of our serenity and created inner chaos, anger and resentments?
To paraphrase what 12-Step programs teach: First we admit that we are powerless over our own chaotic addiction, whatever that may be. By doing so we admit to God and to ourselves that it is time to change, to grow, to recover our God-given capacity for kindness, patience, and for carrying out the will of Jesus, which in today’s Gospel reading Jesus clearly shows us is Mercy, Compassion.
Without Love, Mercy and Compassion, there can be no authentic spiritual practice, for God Himself is this Love, this Mercy and this Compassion.
After admitting to God and to others our need for recovering our freedom and serenity, we then begin to trust that the Lord will give us the grace to grow, to surrender what is not of God so as to live in God always and everywhere, so as to be His intstruments of redemption.
Yes, it is true: God in His Christ can redeem even our stubborn selfishness, our refusal to allow Him to lead us in the path of our Lord Jesus, so as to live our life with a clarity and a gentleness that only come from God.