Challenges can lead to possibilities

By | October 10, 2012

God’s word consistently challenges all of us to grow in the Spirit. God’s word also offers incredible possibilities to lead full and meaningful lives.

The anonymous man in the Gospel was offered a challenge, but failed to respond. We know several things about the man: He had many possessions; he had an urgency about him in that he ran to see Jesus; he was respectful, kneeling before the Lord and calling Jesus a good teacher; he was desirous of everlasting life; he was a moral man, having kept the commandments since birth. And then the challenge came! Take your possessions and share them with the poor. Here was the possibility of true joy. We know the rest of the story — the man’s face fell and he went away sad.

In the book of Hebrews, we hear of challenges and possibilities. The challenge is to embrace God’s word and let that word become effective in the depth of one’s soul. But a warning is issued: God’s word is sharper than a two-edged sword. One should think twice before grasping it since it will penetrate and divide; it will judge our every thought and affection; it will lay bare all that we are and do. So what is the possibility in saying yes to God’s message and purpose? Peace. We keep coming back to the theme of right relationships. When life is properly ordered, then we know peace; when God’s word is operative in our heart and in our communities, then we have the possibility of joy.

There is yet another challenge: Pray for prudence and wisdom. Indeed, plead for these graces since they are values greater than power, riches, gems, health and even light. This is difficult for us to accept, since wisdom and prudence seem remote and intangible. Yet, these virtues are just as real as nails and cabbage plants. Wisdom enables us to know what is truly pleasing to God; prudence, the mother of the moral virtues (i.e. justice, fortitude and temperance) helps us to deliberate, judge and act with consistency and moral ease. Gifted with these virtues, many possibilities emerge: wise counsel, moral rectitude, a stewardship way of life, holiness.

Challenges and possibilities can arise and transform not only individuals, but an entire culture. God’s word is based on the assumption that grace is operative everywhere and thus all things are possible with God.

Questions for reflection

1. What challenges do you deal with at the present time?

2. Is it possible to teach old dogs new tricks?

3. Why is discouragement a major impediment to spiritual growth?

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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