I am not a seasoned chef so I have to follow recipes very closely. Needless to say, the recipe also needs to be foolproof. Yet, I still fumble over the spices and sauces. Always adding a little of this or that which I think will fix the taste, then, tasting the food again, I try to pinpoint what is still lacking in it or what I have added too much of. I might at last come to the long-awaited pmoint of satisfaction with the taste. But that would not be without many repeated attempts at finding out what is lacking and filling in this lack.
In a similar way, we too, in our lives, even as we carry out our apostolate work, may find ourselves having a less than desirable concoction of virtues and vices. Good and bad habits.
The bad news is that unlike cooking, it is far more tedious and challenging to fix ourselves than the taste of food. There seems to always be an internal struggle, a disobedience of the flesh to cooperate with the will. Certain things in others seem to always trigger us, causing us to react rather than respond in loving ways.
I have been struggling a lot for instance with impatience. Especially towards those who do not meet my expectations, and especially when I perceive the matter to be commonsensical. Although these days, I am more aware of this and I can catch myself early enough to hold back a great deal without letting my impatience show too much, I am pretty sure the other party is still able to sense my impatience. I don’t like this impatience but it is there, a thorn in my flesh.
The consoling thing is that even the saints had their share of struggles. As St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (7:14-24) “We are well aware that the law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand my own behavior; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate… the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want, that is what I do… What a wretched man I am!”
Is there a part of you that is a thorn in your flesh too? If there is, what might this be? How has this thorn caused you to live a less-than-satisfying life? And be a Christian who does not bear full witness to Christ? Does it bother you?
Well, here comes the good news. Jesus has risen, ascended to His Father, and has sent to us the Holy Spirit to be our help. We are approaching the feast of Pentecost. When the disciples, filled with fear, hiding, were given the courage and the gift of different tongues to proclaim the Good News to people from so many different lands. The Spirit lent divine aid and filled the disciples’ lacking so that they could transcend their human limitations and carry out God’s will.
We would be pleading to God in the responsorial psalm on Pentecost Sunday to “send forth (His) Spirit and renew the face of the earth”. Truly, we are not orphans, left to our own devices to fulfill the insurmountable task God puts on each of our shoulders to bear Him to our world. We have the Spirit of our living God, dwelling in us, waiting to fill our lacking and empower us for the work we are called to do.
We need to ask. But what shall we ask for? First, we need to examine ourselves, just as we taste the food that is cooking. To become aware of our strengths and weaknesses, know what we need to overcome the undesirable. Then, as we desire to be better for God, we ask the Spirit to grace us with what we need so that we are moulded increasingly into Christ. Like Mary, who the Holy Spirit overshadowed at the annunciation, may we look to God and daily call upon the Holy Spirit to overshadow us, to continually labour in us, so that we may bring Jesus more fully into the lives of all we meet.