“For whoever is not against us is for us.”
Thursday, 30 September 2021
Mark 9:38-43, 47-48
Many people of faith resonate with this sentiment: “I find myself doing things again and again that I do not want to do, and I am not sure how to change or why I do what I do!” St Paul, writing to the Romans, expresses his frustration with himself too” “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
In the Gospel text, Jesus invites us to change, to “metanoia” – a deep and profound conversion of heart. He invites us to do the things we want to do, the things that he knows will bring us life and help us grow in love of self, others and God – things that will lead us to happy and fulfilled lives.
There are three practical things that we can do to ensure that we do what we want, what God wants so that we live from our best selves.
First, do whatever helps. St Ignatius Loyola suggests that we do what helps and let go of what does not help us. For some people, the most unusual solutions can help them attend to the deeper issues in their lives so that they can grow. It does not matter if others approve or not, as long as it is not destructive. Jesus says this in another way: “whoever [or whatever] is not against us, is for us”. If you need to take time out to be alone, do a retreat or attend an art class, for example, then you should do what will help you.
Second, none of us can grow and become the person God wants us to be without seeking and accepting that help and accompaniment of others. The help and support of others is the cup of refreshing water Jesus tell us about in the Gospel. Seek someone that can support you, a spiritual director perhaps, or a good friend. Who will bring out the best in you, the good in you?
Third, only when we regularly examine ourselves – using tools like the Examen (see yesterday’s reflection) – can we see where, when, how and with whom we are most likely to do the things we do not want to do. By noticing this, we can begin to change the pattern and see the reverse – where, when, how and with whom we do the things we really want to do – the things that lead to life and growth!
What do you find yourself doing that you do not want to do? What will you do to begin to change those behaviours so that you can grow in freedom and love of self, others and God?