Note: this text is only for “Good Christians.”
Because we know that God is infinite, that any of our acts is nothing compared to his perfection, unconsciously we tend to draw this conclusion: if God judges us severely, we will all be lost and be sent to Hell. Consequently, both He and we have only one solution, that is, Mercy. As a consequence, we lead our life, our Christian and spiritual life, performing vaguely “good” acts. There is no precision, but there is real certainty in our act that this is exactly what God would want of us. It is enough for us, in our estimation, to have a good act to perform and “being good’’ is enough for us.
Doing God’s will is often understood in a very broad way, namely, as looking for good things to do, leading a “good” life and being good in general – and, we think, we will be fine. We are adamant that God’s will is about good deeds! Sometimes even, some think: “what should I say in confession, I haven’t done anything wrong!” And life goes on….
Is this all about being Christian? Being good and doing good deeds? Many can argue, with supporting quotations, that yes, this is what we are supposed to be and make of our lives.
Astonishingly a greater intimacy with God, a deeper and more refined action of the Holy Spirit in our conscience, mind and will, is not necessarily considered as part of being Christian. Jesus talking to us clearly is not suggested either. To know God’s will is often considered as arduous and is rarely pursued. We end up by just holding onto a silent God, following in a general direction of being and doing good. The fact, that when God became incarnate He talked distinctly, does not cross our minds. The fact that a greater intimacy is offered to us where we can clearly hear Jesus’ voice, through the direct and personal intervention of the Holy Spirit, does not occur to us! We think that this is the privilege of the very few. We do not count ourselves among them. We do not think that Jesus will leave the government of the entire world to dedicate some time to talking to us and indicating His will to us. We think that His will is clearly expressed in the Gospel and in the Commandments, and that it up to us to know them and act accordingly.
The intimacy that the Son of Man had with the Eternal Father, as shown in St. John’s Gospel, is seen only as something that belongs exclusively to Jesus. In St. John’s Gospel, the Lord says clearly that He only does what the Father shows Him and tells Him to do. The quality of this intimacy between the human nature of Jesus and the Father is admirably illustrated in the following quotations:
“he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world” (John 8:26)
“I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28)
“I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence” (John 8:38)
“But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has spoken to you the truth that I heard from God” (John 8: 40)
We are weaker than He is, yet despite this, we still think that this intimacy does not apply to us.
Our ideas are correct, but are disturbingly incomplete. They are general. They lack precision; they lack practical clarity. They merely dwell on general statements.
When the eternal Second Person of the Trinity took on human nature, this was not a general undertaking, this was a precise act. When He acted in his human nature, it was not general, or random, or his just needing to be among us. If we, then, read and meditate upon the above statements, we will discover the intimate relationship between the son of Man (i.e., Jesus in his human nature) and the Father.
In our life here on earth we are not saved only by saying “Amen” to the Lord and being Baptised. We are saved by receiving, on a daily basis our daily food, by searching for God’s will for us every day and by putting it into practice by his Grace. It consists of a long series of new acts that will form the New Man, the New Creature in us. Act after act. Not a random act, but a divine and human act: Divine in its provenance and power for implementation and human in the involvement of our human faculties, mind and will and in its implementation. We are not passive when we do God’s will. We are supposed to hear Him talking silently in our heart through the Scriptures.
The temptation however, is for us to keep on talking in generalities in general statements, like being good and doing good deeds. The temptation is never to experience this meeting point between the Risen Lord who speaks to us and our inner hearing! The temptation is to never discover the Living Word of God, active today in our life, through the Holy Spirit.
The temptation is never to discover with clarity God’s will.
The temptation is to live a Christian life without the blessing of the clarity that the Incarnation has brought us: the Lord caring for us to the point that He guides us with clarity.
The temptation is to say: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, and never to seek out (contemplate) God’s will “in heaven”. The temptation here is to stay firmly entrenched in our general understanding of what it is to be “good’ in general good terms of goodness, and never honour the first fruit of the Incarnation: Jesus opening his Holy Mouth and Uttering to us, adapted to our needs of the day, words that are Holy Spirit and Divine Life.
The temptation is to stay away from real incarnation, and to profess it only in general terms.
Temptation is to avoid knowing Jesus’ Word for me today, to stay away from searching for it, never finding it and staying within the general bounds of “goodness”. A temptation to stay away from prolongating the Incarnation in our life.
Amazingly, however, doing good things is not the goal of Christian Life. The goal is to do God’s will today. The difference is simply infinite. Paying attention to the Lord’s silent voice and guidance is fundamental. The New Law actually embodies the Holy Spirit in our heart that allows us to hear Jesus’ voice.
To a great extent, one needs to understand that not searching for God’s will for today and putting into practice is a serious temptation. We can very well adhere to our general good intentions and good deeds, but then we are not paying attention here and now to God. Are we doing God’s will? Are we really implementing: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
The temptation, unfortunately, is to avoid this precise meeting point, where God’s mind and will meets ours. Temptation is not necessarily something vicious or evil that comes from the Devil. Temptation, rather, is something more subtle….
“Lead us not into temptation….
Lead us not into the temptation of being “roughly and approximately” Good Christians.
At the end of the day, just what is the Incarnation of Jesus’ Word in us? It is about Focus. To behave roughly and approximately, to attend Mass roughly and approximately, to pray roughly and approximately, are temptations of not focusing on God. God is Spirit. God looks at the actions of our mind and will. God wants to talk to us. However, are we focused? Do we take the time, all the necessary time, to focus on discovering His will?
Here an analogy from aviation more than strikingly illustrates this point. Some aircrafts are refuelled in mid-air, with a probe and drogue system, with the plane carrying the extra fuel having a drogue and the receiving plane having a probe. However, they need to meet in mid-air. The operation needs precision, in mid-air. The probe has to meet the drogue, otherwise it is impossible to refuel.
This operation cannot be made roughly and approximately. Both planes need to meet at one precise point, being both in mid-air. Without this effort of concentration, focus and precision, it is not possible to refuel and the mission is aborted, and the plane has to land.
We think that finding and meeting God’s will can be achieved without learning how to implement it, without focus and precision. We prefer to focus on other areas of our daily life, but strangely our relationship with God is not lucky enough to attract our focus, concentration and precision.
This kind of temptation is the most common temptation of “good people”, “Good Christians”, of those who daily pray: “Lead us not into temptation.” Some people might be convinced that they are good Christians and yet focus, concentration and precision will have never crossed their minds. Intimacy with the Lord where He speaks to them, is never part of their daily lives.
Are we truly refuelling? Does our probe meet God’s drogue? It cannot be stressed too greatly that the real communication between God and us relies on this precise meeting.
This art is the art of Listening to God’s will. It is also called Supernatural Lectio Divina.
Lead us not into the Temptation of missing God’s Drogue.
Can we sew if the thread does not pass through the eye of the needle? Our spiritual life is not to sew alone. Our life is to sew with God’s Needle. If the thread of our will and daily acts and deeds is not passed through the eye of God’s Needle, we can never sew anything! We think we are serving the Lord, but the only thing we are achieving is to walk alone on our side of life. The connection between God’s needle and the thread of our will is not occurring. We may ask for it when we say: “they will be done on earth as it is in heaven” but we do so mindlessly as the real meaning of the words is beyond us. What is “in heaven”? What is its inherent meaning? Are we aware that it means God’s will which we discover in prayer? What is “earth”? We have no inkling that it means our will!
The puzzling mystery is that in real life, we would never consider sewing without inserting the thread through the eye of the needle!! This shows that precision is still part of our life. Therefore, we are unable to be precise, to produce what is precision or we might even that we lack the capacity to do so. Strangely, when it comes to God, precision never applies! To us, He remains a mystery, His will remains far distant from us … what reaches us is just a set of written Commandments to follow … approximately … et voilà.
“Lead us not into Temptation!”
Lord have Mercy!