07 September 2012

Wineskins and Spiritual Integrity

Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time - 7 September 2012
Gospel Reading: Lk 5, 33-39

In using the analogy of wine and wineskins, Jesus teaches us that following God means maintaining a spiritual integrity. Simply put, we need to be consistent between what we believe and what we do, between our interior life and the external manifestations of our faith. Otherwise, it would be as foolish as ruining new clothes to patch up old ones, or keeping new wines in old wineskins.

Further, the road to spiritual integrity entails a journey from the old self to the new one. We call this process conversion. If we are to really live in Christ, we need to change our mind (literally what metanoia means) and align it with God's will. First, we need to open our minds to God's Word. (This is where the detractors of Jesus failed.) And then, we need to commit to walk in His Way.

I would like to suggest a breakdown of things in our journey towards spiritual integrity this way:

1. Just do it. And put all things in.

Sometime ago somebody asked me this question: "How does one become a good Christian?" I remembered saying, "Just do it." Not very original. Then again, is there a better time to start - or restart - truly living the faith than now?

To my original reply, I would like to add this one: "Don't forget to put all things in". Christ died for us. He gave His life for us. Isn't it just fair that we give our whole self to Him as well? Being a disciple of Christ demands that we take the plunge with Him.

2.Consider not just what needs to be done. Equally important are those that we need to stop doing.

In committing to change for the better, it is equally important to both know how to move forward and what to let go. Otherwise, we will be like birds with wings but with feet tied down to the ground.

I believe in keeping lists. So I suggest listing down the things we need to start doing, and the things we need to let go.

3. Small change is the currency of transformation.

This is one of those lessons I learned from the spirituality of St. Ignatius. It may be a wise thing to dream big dreams, to set visions that are as yet far from our reach. But wiser still is knowing that reaching them means taking the steady, sometimes boring, small steps.

Epic breakthroughs do not happen overnight. They are the accumulation of small victories and hard-earned lessons from various defeats along the way. 

4. Do it with others.

Simply put, God doesn't intend that we carry the burden by ourselves or that we journey alone. The whole history of salvation has always been within the context of a God-founded community. Find friends who will support you, seek kindred spirits. Share your faith with others. They too might just need a dose of unexpected witnessing. Better yet, join a Christian community - a BEC, a charismatic group, a youth group. Or if you are already in one, appreciate God's gift to you of a faith community, even with all its imperfections.

And if ever we find ourselves at one point alone and in an unfamiliar place, know that we will never be truly alone. For God is with us. We may speak about the great journey of faith, but really it is about discovering the God who has always been here with us. That is why we need spiritual integrity, so our eyes may see clearly and our hearts discern freely God's presence and love already embracing us even when we were/are still sinners.

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