Look At It This Way
Different Perspectives on Christian Living
by Fr. Jack McArdle
In offering this series, I am only too aware that I am not offering something new or original. However, I dare to hope that I may offer a different perspective on something with which we are all familiar. The message of the Gospels still stands, no matter how we choose to approach it. I have always tended to look for simpler and more direct ways of presenting it, in the hope that, with understanding, comes a greater response. I grew up with the belief that I lived my life, then I died, and, depending on different factors, I ended up in Hell, Heaven, or Purgatory. Many years later, I see things much more simply. I just hope this is 'wisdom' and not 'wishful thinking'.
In this presentation, I am suggesting that Jesus was sent by the Father, to catch up with us, as we left the Garden, to tap us on the shoulder, and to say: "Come on back home. My Father is waiting to welcome you back, and to forgive everything. All you have to do is to turn to him with all your heart, and he will hold you close to his heart." Jesus goes further, to tell us that he himself will lead us back to the Garden, as we would never be able to make our way by ourselves. We are then offered a supreme Gift, the Spirit and Breath of God, the Spirit of Truth and Power, who will enable us follow Jesus faithfully in all that he asks of us.
If we are heading back towards an eternal hug of forgiveness from the Father, it is only right that we should become 'huggers' along the way, ever growing in our willingness and capacity to forgive others at every step of the journey. Forgiveness must become a core expression of our love. We make this journey as a community, as a family, and we are nourished at the same table of the Eucharist. Each of us is uniquely endowed by God with the gifts he sees we need to fulfil our calling in life. The call can differ from person to person, and so will be the gifts that are given to each. These gifts are called 'charisms', which means gifts that are given to us to be used in the service, and for the benefit of others.
The Way that Jesus points out to us is very definite, and I will never find myself in a situation in life where I am not sure which way to turn. The sign-posts are clear, and the gifts of Wisdom, Discernment, and Knowledge are part of the Tool Box supplied for the journey. I refer to the Cross as 'splinters', because many of us are seldom burdened with a very heavy cross. The splinters of daily living, all those many ways in which we have to die to self, make up the cross for most of us. Quite often this can be more demanding that one single cross, especially if it is one that attracts the sympathy and support of others. It's like comparing the funeral, when huge crowds are there in support, and then the loneliness that the bereaved experiences a few months later, when there's nobody around.
The titles of the chapters are deliberately intended to be evocative. Most of us are familiar with 'Broadband', where I speak about being 'on-line' to God, no matter what else I may be doing. Once again, referring back to an earlier part of my life, prayer tended to be compartmentalised; when I prayed I did nothing else, and when I worked, I did nothing else. I speak about land-mines along the road, and many of us can identify with that image. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. We can so easily take a false step and come to serious harm. I speak about pit-stops, and, while writing this chapter, I was very conscious of having spent a few moments in hospital over the past summer. I have also benefited from Retreats, and times spent in a Hermitage I used visit back along the years. I re-emerged from such places with a real feeling of being 'topped up', and with a renewed sense of energy.
I have subtitled this series "Different Perspectives on Christian Living." None of the truths is new, of course, but it is my hope that I may be able to express them in a way that may make them easier to grasp. In the process of Revelation, something I read, something I see, something I hear goes a little bit towards lifting the veil, and clarifying a truth. It is a life-long process that will not be completed this side of the Garden. It gives joy to my heart, though, when I think that I who write this, and you who read it, will all meet up again, as life was at the beginning of God's Creation, and we won't ever have to say goodbye again. Until then, my friend!
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Look At It This Way copyright © Fr. Jack McArdle. All rights reserved.