We often joked in the seminary that seminarians always seem to have the latest information on what is going on in the ecclesiastical world. There always seemed to be some types of insider information that was known about a Diocese, Bishop, Priest, or Parish — sometimes, way before any official announcement was released. Nevertheless, there is a danger that lies in our very desire to know things! Criticism, gossip, and even at times, slanders, begin to creep in because we have prejudged people or situations before knowing the real, personal, exact, and accurate accounts — versus hearsays or detached analysis. I think, our world, too, is often dictated by that desire because social media has given us an outlet to express ourselves, but too many of us remain vocal, self-assertive, and critical of others but really have not listened and dialogued with one another.
In a day and age where information is instantaneous, the margin of error is higher because news outlets have become lax in checking their sources. They seem to be feeding on each other and making sure that they are the first people to have the breaking news! As a matter of fact, we tend to only read or follow the ones that we like but have not taken the time to really see matters from different perspectives. Sadly, we have had too many news outlets and services telling us what to see and how to think from their perspective and worldview instead of simply giving us investigative, verified, and unbiased information so we can fact-check and decide for ourselves. We have become a society of instant judgment, criticism, and reaction because everyone wants to have their says on things as they see them as soon as possible because everyone is operating from the unconscious fear of “missing out,” worrying about not having their two-cent opinions or voices heard and being left out of their social media or internet circle.
With social media readily available on our fingertip, we can retweet, share, or make comments on matters right away, and that is where it tends to make us gossipy, critical, and negative instead of truly taking the time to reflect, pray, discern, and dialogue with respect and civility. It is sadder when our politicians, elected leaders, and representatives are acting like children, yelling, cutting each other off, making fun, and talking down on others, too! As a society, we have become people who talk and make sure we are vocal, outshine, or outspoken so we get our voices heard, but we have not taken enough time to be humble as to speak, listen, dialogue, and love our neighbors with real dignity and respect. This is where we reap the unfortunate attitudes and negative outlooks of life because we remain as people who only come together to benefit ourselves, but really have not taken the time to care, serve, and genuinely will the good of others.
This is how people get objectified, manipulated, and used as objects! When we choose to only treat people based on how we judge, see, or can use them for our benefit, we degrade their dignity and use them as pieces or objects for our overall goal and game of power and manipulation. When we only choose to hear, speak, and react to people based on what we have come to know from hearsays or quick information, we do not know people as they truly are but only as we have concluded or known them to be according to our standards. In that egocentric and selfish attitude, our society remains a consumeristic and utilitarian society because we treat one another as objects and instruments to be utilized, used, and consumed.
There has to be more! Life cannot just be about us or what we want or how we like for things to be. Life cannot be life-giving and real if it is not genuine, transparent, and sacrificial in nature. We have to choose and will to love and give ourselves to something higher than ourselves, what we like, or how we want things to be. Change of attitude and perspective has to begin with us! Much more than humanistic terms and means, we are called as believers to reflect, discern, and conform our lives to the loving patience, forgiveness, understanding, and wisdom of Christ Jesus. Conversion is not just a one-time thing or something expected of others. Conversion has to begin with us, each and every day! We have to change first before we ask others to change for the sake of us.
If we cannot change ourselves, seeing how blessed we are, how forgiving and patient God has been to us, and how He desires us to become more like Him through the transformative works of grace, we will always remain hopeless, resentful, angry, and doubting why the world cannot be perfect or why people are not as we like or expect them to be! The world was never perfect and we will never be perfect either; it is a continual work of grace because God is still at work in each and every one of us. Nevertheless, it is up to each individual to bask, receive, and be transformed by His love. Just like the sun shining its rays on all through its radiance, God‘s loving grace is able to change those who are willing to receive it with a humble, obedient, and loving heart.
I think a lot of our frustrations and resentments are based on us wanting to be in control, having things our way, or not liking how people or life should be according to our expectations. We are not happy when we continue to look for others’ failures and expect everyone and everything to please us! Nevertheless, perfection cannot be found in this world, and the only perfection that we can strive for is the perfection in love. Even then, to be perfected in love is extremely hard because we have to go beyond ourselves, die to our ego, and allow humility to be aligned, fixated, and conformed to the will of God. It is hard because the Almighty wants us to be perfected in love, which means that we will be challenged to change our perspective and worldview, let go of our demands and expectations, and be in touch of one mind and heart with Him through prayers and a life of self-giving, sacrificial letting-go.
Therefore, as we end this reflection. I would like to ask you to personally pray on how you and I can become better believers through our lives of discipleship in conformity to God‘s will. What can we do and how can we be more attentive to others, meeting them where they are, loving and lifting them up through loving patience to help one another to walk toward Christ? How can you and I share the life of conversion and God‘s loving mercy who never gave up on us to others so that His grace can be received with humility and obedience in them as well? Of course, we cannot help everyone and do everything, but what we can do is be genuine, loving, patient, forgiving, and just to those who are around us just as the Almighty has been to us. So, let us choose life and give life by how we live in conformity to His loving will for one another!