Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Poor in Spirit

Yes, it is holidays for the seminarians and the buildings at Kampung Punggol are quiet. However, I have had time of reflection. There are nine more days before Christmas. I had to conduct a recollection and had prepared a series of reflections based on the Beatitudes. I thought that I could share my reflections within the context of the vocation journey. They are short and (hopefully) useful for those in the process of discernment or thinking of entering into a discernment process for a priestly vocation.

The first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We need to be poor in spirit to follow Christ as Christians. For the priestly vocation, this becomes more important. In the first place, one discerning has to be honest when comparing himself to the Lord who calls him. What does a creature know that his God doesn’t? Of course, the Creator knows more than His creature. In fact, the Creator knows what’s best for the creature. In the discernment of a priestly vocation, we try to determine whether God is calling us to be a priest: Is it God’s will that I become a priest? Many who are taken up by the attractions of the world would be alarmed if God called them because a priest, especially the diocesan priest, is supposed to live a life that is in the world but not of the world (see John 17:11-18). If they sincerely wanted to do what God wanted, they would have to bend their wills to the will of God. In order to do that, they would have to be emptied of their own desires and to be filled up with the spirit of God. Poverty of spirit is required to do what God wills.

The converse is also true. There are those who want to be priests but it is not what God wants of them. They are attracted to the priesthood and so they pursue it. Being a priest is a good thing except when it is contrary to what God wants. A true poverty of spirit will lead them to realise that which God wills.

Thus in discernment, we need to be very sure which is our will and which is God’s will. For a true poverty of spirit, God's will must have a priority over our will. Even if what God wills is the same as what we desire, there is a difference between the following two statements:
I want what God wants.

God wants what I want.

We have to ensure that God’s will is prior, or takes priority, over what we desire. For all of us who are discerning, we must first honestly differentiate between what we want and the will of God. Then in a true poverty in spirit, submit to the will of God.

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