12 January 2008 Saturday after the Epiphany
1 John 5, 14-21 Discernment
Discernment is an important word in the first reading. It says, “We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.” Discernment is God’s grace for all of us to be able to find and know Him; to identify and see Him in our lives. Fr. James Donahue SJ said that “the ability to discern leads to an understanding of the direction and path that one is to follow to be faithful to God’s purposes and intentions.” The goal is thus to make the right choices.
A life of faith is not just about choosing what is good or bad. Because if it is just a matter of good or evil, then decision-making is easy. The choice is obvious: choosing evil is not an option. You don’t need to discern in this situation: the will of God is clear!
However, the most difficult situation is choosing between two or more good things. For example, having an array of promising careers, opting between two job offers, considering two important values in one’s life such as obeying our parents or following the desire of our hearts. It is about what decisions and commitments do you think you are being called to make in your life. Discernment is asking about what choices would best manifest who I am and who I am called to be. That is why discernment is called for when resolving between forms of vocation: to get married and build a family, to be in religious life, to be single, etc. All of them are good life choices: but which is God’s will for you? In all of these situations, finding God’s will for us is harder and challenging; finding God in two or more good things is often difficult.
Have you experience going to a grocery store and not finding what you are looking for; only to discover that the item has a new packaging? Often we look for God at all the familiar places where we have been experiencing God such as a church, a quiet place, or a deep and enjoyable friendship. Can we find God in His other forms such as a doctor who gives you a wrong diagnosis, a criminal, or a person whom you dislike? Or finding God in an unpopular path --- the road less travelled?
Jesus gifted us with the eyes to recognize God in our lives. The Holy Spirit’s task is to enlighten us and guide us as we ‘read’ the signs of the times. Thus, confident of this gift, we are to continually search and reflect on the presence of God in all His different ‘forms’ in our lives.