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Living with a Purpose

For those who minister to the young it’s usually the most common if not most pertinent to their needs. There is no simple answer to that. If there is any then that’s definitely the essay homework the school of life requires us to write from birth to death and submit to St Peter at the Gate. 

Our time is packed with so much to be done and so little time. There is always something that’s not yet done and something to be finished before something. There are meetings and projects to be started and important errands to be over and done with. But sadly in very few cases do we find happiness in the business we’re engaged in. All we need is to get it done. We even wish for better technology ‘to get it done’, if possible all at once. Our lives are passing by and we feel empty and somehow robbed. Why do we feel empty when all we have been doing is good and best for our lives and our families and even our Church? 

There is a story of Jesus in Capernaum: He healed so many people and did a lot of good things. Yet he quits all and, on a particular notable event after healing Peter’s mother-in-law and many others that were brought, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:35-38 (TNIV). There’s this whole village that wants him to stay and he basically says, “No!” There’s this opportunity to do so much good, help so many people, and he turns it down. Interestingly Jesus doesn’t do everything. How could Jesus walk away from this village of people? Have you ever walked away from something “good”? 

Jesus has his reasons. He has to keep moving. Where is he going? The Gospel of St Luke clearly shows the purpose of this movement: from chapter 9 to chapter 19 we have motifs woven in the story of Jesus that He was resolute on going to Jerusalem. Of note he even tries to alert the disciples on this purpose; “Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.” Luke 18:31. Now it’s not like he’s just moving like one who has no control over his life except for that purpose. Like anyone of us he gets disturbed along the way and that’s how we get so many of his teachings as he responded to situations and people along the way. But Jesus does not do everything for everybody. He’s very clear on what his life is about. He knows when to say No because he has already said Yes to his Mission. Do you have a hard time saying no? Or perhaps there’s a better question – what is it that you have said yes to? Because you can’t say no until you’ve said yes to something else. When you know the will of God for your life, all the voices of obligation in your life will help edify your purpose and enlighten your responses. There is need to retreat, to withdraw and to check oneself, to listen to God. 

Sören Kierkegaard (philosopher and theologian) said that a saint is the person who can will the one thing. He was talking about the kind of person who knows exactly what their life is about and sets their purpose on that. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that (Cardinal Dearden in 1979). The choices and decisions of my life should support and drive me to the one thing that God wills for me (Ephesians 5:17). 

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