Friday 20th May 2016: Not taking ourselves too seriously is … a serious business!

If you’ve ever had to deal with a child who is  devastated and in tears because of a disappointment or setback they have had to suffer, you know how hard it can be not to find it even slightly amusing, or be overwhelmingly tempted to patronise and pretend that the whole thing really isn’t that important and will blow over. The more sensitive the youngster, of course, the greater the risk of the reaction to these strategies putting them in to an even worse state than the one they were in already! And it need not necessarily have been a child we’ve had to deal with in that situation. It may have been an adult, family member, colleague, whoever. The point I am trying to make is that what we are really called by the Holy Spirit to do in order help the other calm down and understand, is that whilst it’s ok for them to be disappointed, maybe even quite upset about what we think is a minor mishap or detail, we want them to see is that in taking it seriously, we don’t think they should take themselves too seriously!

And that after all is what God our Father seeks to do with us. He does care about the details of our lives even though from His perspective of the salvation of humanity (i.e. the bigger picture) they are not that important. He cares because He loves us. Period. He doesn’t not care when we feel He isn’t listening to, or answering our prayers and supplications when we are struggling with what to us seems like enormously huge and challenging things; rather He wants us to press ‘pause’, think and get perspective, so that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It really is that simple. This is why we really must try to see all things, the good and the bad that happen to us, especially the annoyingly bad and frankly, unjust things, through a prayerful lens. We should always try to pray, even if only in a nano-second, for the grace to respond rather than react. Let’s face it, how often has it happened in life where something seemingly devastating has happened, but where in the end we look back with hindsight and smile, or even have a hearty laugh at ourselves, for having been just a bit silly and disproportionate in our reaction to something. If we’re honest, we sometimes feel the world or our imagined sphere of influence really does revolve around us!

So, as St. Augustine of Hippo so aptly and emphatically put it in replying in writing to an intelligent young man named Dioscorus, feeling his patience sorely tested, “The way is first humility, second humility, third humility and no matter how often you keep asking me I will say the same over and over again.” (Augustine, Letter 118)

Something useful!   One of the challenges of Amoris Laetitia is how to get its hugely important messages across to ordinary married couples either directly or via the Sunday sermon.  To help meet this challenge, Brian and Maurine Devine have written a series of reflections on the key themes in the exhortation regarding matrimony.  They can be found on the Two in One Flesh Facebook page, which can be accessed directly or vie the http://www.twoinoneflesh.org.uk/ website

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