Values for Life
In the coming weeks, the church celebrates two of it major feasts: the Ascension and Pentecost. In the first, we celebrate when the risen Jesus left the disciples, and in Pentecost, we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Come again?!? We celebrate Jesus leaving us! Why on earth would we do that? Wouldn’t you think that as Christians we would much prefer him to stay around on earth to lead and guide us, telling us what to do. No, because then we would remain dependent and immature. Strange to say he has become absent physically in this world so that he might be present in our lives, within our own selves. God became human in Jesus that we might become like God. We are meant to ‘grow up’ to salvation and have the maturity to show forth the presence of Jesus within our own lives.
Strange to say we can see how this dynamic works in parenting. While children are young we need to be constantly with them teaching them values to live by so that when older, they can live those values in their own way. Passing on good values is not easy. It is often so much easier to do the chores ourselves, that to teach them how do them; so much easier to give them free use of the internet and mobile phones, than to teach them boundaries and self-respect. It is a challenge to teach them how to be responsible on Facebook, to understand that not everything ‘about me’ has to be shared with the world. As a parent or guardian, these challenges will stretch you…and that is when we can call on the gift of the Holy Spirit to impart to our children values they can internalise and guide them later in life.
Growing up to Salvation.
Ask most parents what is one of the greatest challenges in parenting and they will answer: “Letting them go”. When your children, leave home, marry, make their own lives, your role as a parent does not come to an end but it does come to its fulfilment. We do not have children to have them stay as children. We have them to become adults and leave. That can be tough. Having spent so many years trying to instil in them values to live by, you worry about how they will live them out. But they will never truly live those values until they do it for themselves.
After his Resurrection, Jesus showed himself to the disciples and then left them. He ascended into heaven. Wouldn’t the logical thing have been for him to stay around and keep the disciples, and us, on the right track? No, because he didn’t want us to be childish in our faith but to own it and live it for ourselves. God wants us to own the life of Jesus, but to express it in our lives according to our own unique personalities. As followers of Jesus, we are not clones of him. Of course we need guidance. Instead of Jesus being physically present among us we, have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our lives. In our lives, especially in times of chaos, we can turn within to hear the still small voice of the Spirit guiding us into the ways of God.
Loving God, you want us to grow up to salvation. May your Spirit move over our lives, especially when we are fearful, overwhelmed or in pain. May that Spirit remind us of the love of Jesus and guide us into his peace. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb.