Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Be"-Attitudes, How to Live the Good News - By Peter Avvento

“Be” Attitudes  - How to Live the Good News

            For the past few weeks we have been listening to parables about sowers and seed, about good ground and not so good ground and this coming week we will hear about various descriptions of the kingdom of heaven. All of these stories, drawn from an agrarian mindset, are used by Matthew in his 13th chapter to illustrate what Jesus was talking about in his Sermon on the Mount in chapter 5. But I am struck not so much by the examples as I am about the point of it all. After all, I am neither a farmer nor a fisherman although I do love vegetables, grain and fish! I am more interested in the audience – the soil, the water, the land, the heart. What must I do to ensure that the soil of my heart is ready, that my land is properly fertilized, that the sea of my soul is open to receive the net? In other words, how am I to continue to grow spiritually so that the Word of God takes root in my heart and bears fruit?

            In looking for a practical application I look to a familiar and wise old source, one of my former professors, the Canadian Jesuit philosopher Bernard J. Lonergan, S.J. Father Lonergan’s major work was a book called Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957). In this book he developed a theory of knowledge. He wanted to get people to raise their own self-awareness in life. According to Lonergan we can do this by following some basic precepts: Be attentive, Be intelligent, Be reasonable and Be responsible! Be loving! Let’s look at this in greater depth and see how we might apply them in our daily lives.

            “Be attentive”! – Are we attentive to the signs of the times? Do we bring the Gospel message into our daily lives? Is the Gospel “real” for us? Are we more interested in getting our daily dose of medicine from CNN or the Word of God? This is a tough one, I must confess. As Christians we are called to be “in” the world but not “of” the world. We are called upon to transform the world not to be consumed by the world. This is a very sticky situation and a very narrow road to navigate. We are called upon to be “dual citizens” – citizens of this world and of the next world.

            “Be intelligent”! – I do not mean book smart although it does have its place. Am I striving to learn more about my faith, trying to understand the Scriptures and their rich meaning? Do I stop to do any spiritual reading? What about prayer? On the surface this seemingly “waste of time” with the One who knows me and loves me more than anyone in the world is the perfect way to grow wise in the things of God. What about enjoying my experiences? Do I see all things as part of God’s plan for me? Only when I experience this can I grow into the person that the Lord intended me to be.

            “Be reasonable”! – This is a tough one and I do not like it. Do I recognize my limitations? Oh I know the limitations of others but what about myself? Between responsibilities at work and at home there just does not seem to be enough time in the day to accomplish what I need to accomplish. Do I realize that God is God and I am not and am I thankful for that? Can I let go of the steering wheel and let God lead me? After all, it’s His world, not mine.

            “Be responsible!” – Am I a responsible steward of the gifts that I have been given? Do I take care of my health, my home, the earth and its creatures? Do I strive to be a co-creator with God and make this a better place to live? Do I try to impart values to my family and friends and co-workers without putting them off? Do I own up to my shortcomings or do I conveniently say “the devil made me do it”?

            “Be loving!” – Do I reflect the love that I have received from God in my daily life? Am I in love with God or do I merely acknowledge Him? Does my heart pour out or close up? Am I inclusive or exclusive in my dealings with people? Do I brand, label and categorize people giving them no hope of redemption?

            I truly believe that if we can begin to be attentive, intelligent, reasonable, responsible and loving we will finally get the point of the message of the Gospel and we can start living out the challenge of what it means to follow Jesus. We will experience “conversion”, a radical
re-positioning of our very selves in order to be open to the touch of God in our hearts. It is then that we will truly know “inner peace” and an answer to our restlessness. Amen. 

Peter Avvento is the Coordinator of both, Adult Faith Enrichment at St. Edward's as well as for the diocesan Amazing God initiative. To learn more about Peter, please click here. We thank him for this contribution to the parish blog and hope to see his work here more regularly in the future.


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