Over the past ten years there have been 2500 reflections published on this Food For Faith website. I don’t look back over these pieces very often, but I decided to this week and discovered some pieces published in September 2011, ten years ago. Here is one of these which I share today as an encouragement from the past:
Joys & Hopes, Griefs & Anxieties
Each week brings its own joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties. Naturally we want the joy and try to avoid the anxiety, but maybe each is hidden within the other?
In a moment of reflection you might look back over your life. In the events and experiences, you will probably notice a good deal of anxiety. But there has been joy too.
On looking into these moments (with the un-pressured perspective of hindsight) you notice that what seemed like a happy and welcome event at the time, did not deliver the life-long satisfaction that it promised.
Then you notice that some of the moments you called “anxiety” bore rich fruit.
This awareness is a moment of great hope for the human person.
If we are oblivious to this learning, we will become victims of our compulsions. Every word and action will be decided by what seems to (on first superficial glance) promise the most satisfaction. We will be unavoidably driven to steer away from whatever looks like suffering.
Such a life is not a life at all, for this is the existence of a robot. There is no freedom. In this existence my instincts and urges have free reign. My fears drive me. My moods are my master.
If you recognise something of yourself in these words, what are you to do? What is the best way to escape this captivity?
Many people who become aware of their lack of freedom seek counselling or therapy. This is a helpful step since it reveals the sincerity of the desire for freedom.
Others discover tools and techniques to retrain themselves in ways of thinking and behaving that are their own choice rather than the impositions of upbringing and culture.
Again the depth of desire for freedom is revealed in this commitment to change.
But in these good and well-intentioned projects, it is still possible to avoid the central and essential fact. Humans are powerless without God.
While discipline and dedication can bring about change in thinking, speech and behaviour, the transformation we seek is a gift from the God who loves us, and who tenderly embraces us and carries us in every moment.
From our own human experience we know that real transformation is effected only by love. In this experience the heart is transformed. Freedom is given and received. Now I move and think, speak and love as one who knows s/he is loved by the ultimate and eternal lover.
If you want to know the extent to which you are dependant on God, just take a moment to find your pulse. Can you feel that beat? You are not doing that? Every breath you take (note ‘take’ meaning ‘receive’), you are being given by God.
This awareness is fundamental to human life. We may be able to survive and exist, to cope or to endure without savouring this divine gift, but it is not possible to live oblivious to the fact of this ultimate gift. It is not possible to consider this gift, without being drawn in love to The ONE who has chose to give me this gift.
This awareness is not a thought or a doctrine. It is not a technique or a tool. This life is a relationship with Jesus who is ‘God-with-us’.
And this relationship changes everything. We are never alone. We are never unloved.
Now I am unafraid, even in the midst of my griefs and anxieties I have the depth of joy and hope that can never be achieved by human endeavour.
Now, only because of my awareness of this ultimate and real love, I am finally free.
I need the help of FFF readers with a little project I have planned to begin next week. I’ll save the details for later, but for the moment I need recordings of you, your household, your family, school group, friends, prayer group, praying one decade of the Rosary – beginning with Our Father, the ten Hail Marys, Glory Be and concluding with O My Jesus… That’s all. Would love to have a diversity of people, groups, ages etc to use for the project. So could you in the next next two or three days make a recording on your phone and send to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to attach a photo of your group if you would like to but that is not essential. I appreciate your help with this – I think you might like the result!
Amen thanks Father John just last week a friend from Church requested we do 1 decade of the Rosary she called during the week we set up a time at 10 in the morning we did our 1st Decade Amen will try and record next week
Thank you Fr John for this beautiful reflection .My relationship with Jesus and knowing Gods Agape love for me has brought me such security joy peace and a freedom I didnt find in the material things of this world . What an adventure we are on ! So thankful He chose me !
Thank you, Father John, this old reflection got me thinking about the past and thinking about how few now look to God for freedom and peace. I am sure we will have all noticed our churches emptying over the last ten years or more and continuing to do so. It amazes me that people can’t see God in the things around them, the absolute wonder of their own body or the glory of his creation in the night sky. Sadly it all seems lost on most people. I love Tess Bowling’s comment “what an adventure we are on”
Thankyou Fr John,
I am” “(not have” and finished)
receiving more freedom
– Perseverance and Love,
Our Heavenly father,
Showers apon us, With All
The gifts of the holy spirit.
Placed in front of us all,whether
It be hardships or worry,the outcome,when I trust in
God,has to be, “thy will be done”