REFLECTION: Separate the wheat from the chaff PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 May 2014 14:02



We all need to cultivate this skill, and polish it to perfection as we go through our very exciting, if complicated, life. There are glitters and sparkles that are false and deceiving. There are also those that are genuine, but our problem is that we get stuck with them, completely mesmerized, and fail to get to the real thing.

On this we are amply warned in the gospel. “Not by bread alone does man live but by every word of God,” (Lk 4,4) Christ tells us, practically saying where our true nourishment for life is. We have to be wary of being blinded by merely material things and the world’s allurements, and fail to consider the more important spiritual realities.

On another occasion, we are told not to judge by appearances alone. We should learn to enter and read the mind and heart of people, where their real identity is found. We have to learn to discern the essence of things and the spirit behind every event in our life and every development in our ongoing stream of history.

All these indications have many implications and consequences. We have to learn how to judge and assess things properly, ever discerning and discriminating, able to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, the essential and the accidental.

In our daily life, for example, we have to be wary of commercials that intensify their hype about certain products, titillating our senses, curiosities and our other vulnerabilities, so we would buy them, never mind if we don’t need them.

Same with glib speakers usually in the person of politicians, publicists and yes, why not, preachers. We have to be most judicious of the substance of their messages rather than be easily taken by their brilliant rhetorical tricks and devices. It’s not a matter of being sceptical or cynical. Just discerning and discriminating with God’s grace.

What is indispensable in all this is to be truly a man of God, since only then can we be in the truth, whether we are delivering it or receiving it. So, prayer, meditation of God’s word, deepening in the knowledge of the doctrine of our faith are a basic necessity. Otherwise, we would cruise the ocean of life rudderless.

In fact, we are asked to be born again in the Spirit. We have to put on Christ, bury the old man and the carnal man in ourselves, so we can be alive to a far deeper and richer reality etched out by our faith and God himself.

Obviously, these spiritual moorings should be translated into tangible practices. We have to know how to organize our day, seeing to it that we have ample time for prayer, reflection and study. We just can’t go on flowing with the tide of life without making vital contact with our true foundation.

Better still, we have to learn how to detect God’s presence and abiding intervention in the very things that we handle or get involved. Yes, we need to be contemplatives right in the middle of the world.

This concern, mind you, is not of the medieval era, anachronistic at our modern, fast-moving, highly technological world. This should always be the ‘in’ thing, never allowed to fade into obsolescence. It’s a basic necessity for us, for which God also has given us all we need to achieve it.

We also have to develop virtues—the good, old ones that never fail to serve us well. They actually facilitate our comprehension of things, no matter how complicated they are, as well as develop our capacity to cope with whatever situation or predicament we get into.

Yes, a certain sobriety and temperance are also needed. These virtues are not meant to take away our fun in life, throwing us a wet blanket. Neither are they meant simply to be restrainers.

They serve to give us a certain distance from things so we can see them better, and space so we can sort out things well. They assure us that we are on a right, or at least on a safe path, and not just going about wildly, led by aroused but often blind emotions and passions.

Hopefully, these practices would make us persons of good criteria and judgment, properly guided to the point that prudence and discernment become instinctive in us. Let’s encourage everyone to learn the art of separating the wheat from the chaff in our daily affairs.

In a culture marked by selfies and unmitigated self-seeking, let’s do our part in reminding everyone of our need for God, for spiritual exercises, and the virtues