Keep Moving!

All around the country this week, matric students have been receiving their results. This is a time of joy and jubilation for many; but it may also be a time of anxiety, worry and disappointment for many more. There will always be the temptation to read into these results so much more than they intend or truly represent; and for those who have fared poorly, to see themselves as failures.

Without diminishing the evident success of many, I do wish to encourage those who feel lost and dejected at this time and point out that all is not lost! Our God is a God of love, and he loves each and every one of us – regardless of one’s marks or matric status. God has a plan for each of us. And that plan is broad enough to include one’s matric results – however varied! In our Gospel today, God the Father was pleased with His Son for His obedience and faithfulness to God’s plan for Him and publicly acclaimed Him beloved as He was commissioned to begin His ministry. I believe God will be as pleased with us too when we obey his will. We just have to understand what God is calling us towards. And this means paying attention to ourselves and our desires.

However well one fared in the matric exams, all are faced with the same question: what is God’s plan for me? A Jesuit friend of mine likes to say that “God’s plan for us is less like a railroad track and more like a compass point. God does not give up on us if we step off the path. God continues to invite us to walk in a direction (toward love).” Like a GPS, God’s call finds us where we are and encourages us Godward.

Some of us may have seen the movie, ‘The Two Popes’. In the movie there is a fitness device that keeps telling the two men to ‘keep moving’, and the future Pope Francis, memorably says in a scene that God is found on the journey. We need to keep moving, and journeying with God.

However well or poorly one did in the matric exams, it is important that young people continue to ‘keep moving’ and not be paralysed in indecision or desolation. Many people offer the advice that the young should ‘follow their passion’. But that advice is not always helpful. Since for those who have found their passion, it is obvious. And for those who have not, it can be terrifying and trap one in indecision as one waits to discover it.

The question of what one should do with one’s life, what God’s plan for one is, is as ever urgent. Young people at the moment are entering into adulthood in a world where there are a myriad of problems not of their making. From the cumulative effects of society ignoring climate change, to the prospect of increasing unemployment, a declining economy and ever more complex challenges to finding committed and loving relationships, and being able to afford a family and a home, it is understandable that one finds it difficult to see a path or a plan, such that one can be forgiven for being anxious: but God does have a plan!

I would say don’t worry about following a ‘passion’. Instead, follow your curiosity – follow what you love, and on that journey you will discover God and God’s plan. Everyone can identify things that make us curious, or things which we love or desire. And when we move in the direction of our curiosity, we learn a lot about ourselves and how God might be calling us. We must all just keep moving!

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Matthew manages the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and is involved in the Spirituality work whilst completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and is also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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