When stretched beyond your limits, what do you do?
If you’re anything like me, there are times in your life when you’re feeling battered by all the people, issues, or ideas that are demanding your attention? Whether it’s the family activities, work obligations, social expectations, religious or personal demands, economic or political pressures, there can be no doubt that all of us are often under a great deal of pressure to give our attention and commitment to a wide variety of people and issues. It takes great stamina and wisdom from above to evaluate and balance all the expectations that are placed upon us.
When we try to evaluate, balance and respond to the many pressures and demands in our life, what measure do we use? How do we decide, among all the clamoring demands, which is worthy of our attention and what kind of response will bring life?
There is a famous passage from the Letter of James in the New Testament that describes some important ways to measure what will be a life-giving response. James tells us that ”the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” (James 3:17-18).
Sometimes the beliefs we cherish and the things we pursue fill us with anger and judgment about others. We become cynical and untrusting. We can even become hardened to the concerns of others and unwilling to acknowledge their sincerity. If we find ourselves locked into these feelings, it’s time to reassess our attitudes and commitments. For James reminds us that the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit nourishes peace and gentleness within us, mercy toward others, and self-gift so others can thrive.
So, if we’re wondering what kind of response the Lord wants from us, just do a quick check on whether our response engenders kindness and peace, or anger and suspicion. Then remember the advice of James. May the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit guide us all.
Reflection Copyright 2018 by Fr. Michael Higgins C.P.
Photograph Copyright 2018 by Michael J. Cunningham O.F.S.
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