Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Jam with the Lamb!

2 weekends ago the seminary hosted a weekend of workshop on the tools for vocation discernment. I was encouraged to see so many young men and women who were serious about finding out the plans the Lord has for them. Many questions were raised, and among those in the top-10 list is this:
“Will God punish me if I don’t follow his will?”

There are many ways of answering this question. Since this is a blog and not a theological paper, I’m gonna share a simple analogy using my own example. I took up guitar in secondary school. And since I enjoyed music, I used to practice for 1-2 hours everyday. But somehow, other than strumming some oldies tune, I noticed that I didn’t improve much in my playing. So after about half a year, I started playing the drums as well. I was surprised at my own progress, cos although I didn’t play that well, I felt natural playing the drums. Gradually I noticed that I have a natural inclination towards beats and rhythm, as I recalled that I could play the tambourines when I was in primary school.

Many years passed, and I continued to play both the drums and guitar – I was definitely much more exposed to playing the guitar cos I didn’t own a drum set. Thru those years I had the opportunities to play in small time gigs here and there. Here, I wanna share 2 particular events. One was many years ago when I played in a band for a Christmas concert in a church. I played the guitar, the band was fun, and we enjoyed ourselves. The second event was last year, when I had the opportunity to play for the freshmen orientation camp in NUS, organized by the Catholic Students’ Society. This time I played the drums, the band was fun, and we enjoyed ourselves as well. So what’s the difference between the 2 concerts? We had enough practice before the concerts, so I managed both the guitar and the drums equally well – not fantastic but at least nobody threw rotten eggs at me.

For me, the most significant difference has to do with how I felt deep within. Compared to playing the guitar, I felt more fulfilled and free when I played the drums. I knew that playing the drums was being true to who I really was; I knew that I played to the best of my potential, from the deepest of my being. I felt that I was floating in the music. I didn’t get any standing ovation, neither did I receive much affirmations. To be honest, I didn’t even think I played well in terms of skills. But all that didn’t matter to me anymore, cos I had the opportunity to be someone I was meant to be, and that was enough for me. Now, back to the question: was I being punished when I didn’t feel the same sentiment after I played the guitar? No, I merely deprived myself from giving myself to the fullest!

Yahweh told Jeremiah,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.” Jer 1:5
Like the prophet, we also have a specific plan and mission that God has placed even before we were born.

Can we choose not to follow his will?

Yes, if we believe in human free will.

Will God punish us?

No, if we believe in a loving and compassionate God.

So, what is the point of answering God’s call?

I’ll let St Catherine of Siena, whose feast the Church celebrates today, answer that question…
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!”

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