Reflections of Faith
Read and be inspired by a reflection based on today's Gospel made by members of the Verbum Dei Family in Manila.
The Solution for Laziness is an Intelligent Faith
Originally posted in Facebook by Fr. Michael Cheong, FMVD
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday or Vocation Sunday. It is a day dedicated by the Church to pray for priestly vocations, but at the same time, it is a day to remember that being a Christian is also a vocation, a call to all baptized Christians to become good shepherds like Jesus for others: to our children, our dependents, workmates, classmates, the sick and the elderly, the poor, the disappointed, etc.
Today’s first reading talks about baptism as a door to salvation, but not only that of our own, but for the sake of others’ too! In our baptism, we made vows to reject Satan and sin and worldly excesses, but we also made vows to believe in a God of love and give our lives entirely to charity and be guided by it. As St Augustine says, we are Christ in the world today. If Christians do not heed the call to be His living presence in the world, then the world would never come to know the love of Jesus today. As a Christian, do I come to God only to pray for my own needs or that of my own family concerns? How important as we come to God to pray also for others whom God entrusts to our prayers!
In the second reading, St Peter talks about our participation in the mission of Christ to redeem the world through our own sufferings and efforts to live Christian charity, just as He did. We are meant to suffer hopefully not for the bad things we do, but for the good we do as well! This may seem unfair at first, but if we reflect on it a bit, it is the essence of any mature love: to suffer unconditionally for those we love, even if they did not earn it or in times they do not seem to deserve it. We suffer and make sacrifices for them because we love them, and simply because I consider them mine.
This is the heart of God’s unconditional love for everyone, who causes his sun to shine on the good and the bad alike! He loves everyone because He considers all of us His own. What drama our world is going through today because people do not want to mature in love, when people do not want the responsibility of having children, when spouses do not have the will to make lifelong sacrifices for one another, to bear with one another’s needs and weaknesses too, when charity becomes something extra to do in life and not the most natural relationship towards others!
At the heart of this lack of charity is laziness, the capital sin we can consider this week, as we journey to ponder on the seven capital sins. Laziness can be considered the most subtle and sure spiritual sickness in our spiritual lives. It is the lack of desire of effort to do anything that one does not consider beneficial to oneself. It is subtle because we can still be working hard externally and mechanically, but if we dig deep, its motivation has only to do with “me”, and closes our hearts more and more to a smaller and smaller world. I stop praying for example when I don't seem to get what I want from God; but when I do, I happily pray! I love my husband of wife when he or she makes me feel good, but if not I don't feel like doing anything for them?
At the root of laziness is basically a fear of failure, that it might not be worth my effort. Consider, I would work hard on something only if I consider it worth it or if it will succeed. If I do not believe in charity or hope that my love, patience and forgiveness for others will ultimately have its effect, I would not do it.
Yet the Christian is called to do the opposite, to believe in love, to hope in the effects that come in its own time and its own way! Diligence, the opposite of laziness, refers to an intelligent effort, one that is based on wisdom and experience of so many inspiring examples who come before us whose love ultimately produced their effects. In other words, if we actually stopped to think and to pray, and remembered these examples, especially that of Christ, we would surely be encouraged to continue loving and hoping in the charity we share. That's why taking time to pray is so important! It helps us not only to work hard, but to love smart!
“I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me.” The call of the Gospel today is a call to become like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to mature in a love that gradually includes everyone and makes them one’s own. Pope Francis calls the evil of our time ‘exclusion’. Let us build an inclusive world through faith and an intelligent labour of love.
Fr. Michael Cheong is a Singaporean missionary priest of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. His current assignment is in Rome, Italy.