Sunday, February 14, 2016

Focus, openness, mystery

IN our life, we always would be in need of some focus because we have goals to reach, tasks to perform, duties to carry out. It’s good that we learn how to gather and mobilize all our powers and resources to achieve the goals set for us.


But we just have to make sure that our need for focus does not detract us from our equally important need to be open to things in general and to learn how to deal with the mystery that always shrouds God’s continuing providence over us.

No matter how legitimate, important and urgent these goals are, we should not forget that there are many other things that we also should give due attention. Let’s never forget that the goals we are pursuing are always part of a much bigger picture that we should try not to lose sight of.

These are, at least, two dimensions of our life that we have to learn how to put together in harmony. These are but part of the consequences of our other dual dimensions in life, like the natural and supernatural, material and spiritual, temporal and eternal, etc.

And so, a lot of reviewing, adjusting, adapting and reinventing has to be done, always assuming a sporty attitude so as to be able to move on, whatever the situation may be in a given moment. We should avoid being naïve to think that things would just go fine in some automatic way.

Our usual problem is that with all the pressures bearing on us today, we can tend to be so focused with our immediate objectives that we end up being short-sighted and narrow-minded, even rigid, bigoted and self-righteous.

This is a danger that we should be most aware of and careful about. In fact, it has become a common and “clear and present danger.” It’s a danger that could be a corollary of what Christ himself warned us: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” (Mt 16,26)

Yes, it can happen that we can succeed in attaining our immediate goals, but neglecting the more important things in life. Thus, we can have a replay of what Christ said about some critical leading Jews of his time: “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Mt 23,24)

But how can we have focus and at the same time be open to things in life in general that can be full of mysteries? Again, we can have many ideas about how to go about this task, but the ultimate answer can be no other than to be very vitally identified with Christ.

He is the very epitome of one who has perfect focus in life and yet open to how things were on the ground and, most especially, to the very will of his Father. And so, once again, we cannot overemphasize the need for prayers, for sacrifices, for study of the doctrine and recourse of the sacraments, developing virtues, etc., for these are the means to live our life with Christ.

More concretely and directly, we need to see to it that we always have rectitude of intention in whatever we are doing, guarding and defending that rectitude with all the power we have got, so that even if we may not be able to read God’s will perfectly, we can still be with him and manage to follow his ways that often can be mysterious and unpleasant to us.

Obviously, the ideal is for us to be able to promptly discern and second God’s promptings to us, because we can presume that God is actually always intervening in our lives. There is no moment when he is indifferent to our situation.

Given the temper of the times when we are exposed to so many pressures and many other seductive distractions, we have to see to it that we intensify our rectitude of intention before we work or start a project or embark on excursions, etc.

We have to see to it that God is the abiding focus even if we have many alternating secondary foci. Rectitude of intentions means all our thoughts, words and actions are meant to give glory to God and to serve others.

That way, we would at least be aware of many other things. We can maintain a proper hierarchy of priorities and stick to it without getting swayed by what clearly are distractions.


We need to devise a concrete strategy of how to tackle the distractions effectively, since they indeed can be come to us in a very attractive, oftentimes irresistible way.

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