REFLECTION: Being watchful PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 30 August 2014 11:20



WE can’t help but be watchful in life. We are in a journey, needing to reach a certain destination. And there are just too many elements we have to contend with, and not all of them are good and proper to us. In fact, many of them can be dangerous.

Just like when we are driving a car, when we need to have our eyes open all the time, looking not only at what is in front, but also at what is on the right and on the left, and from time to time also at the back, as well as to follow traffic rules and road signs, we need to have the eyes of our mind and heart open all the time.

Thus, in the gospel, we are told: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Mt 24,42) That’s the big difference between the vigilance on the road and that on our life’s journey. The former has our destination quite known. The latter has it still hidden behind all kinds of mountains and clouds in our life.

The secret of this lifelong vigilance that has to contend with many mysteries is for us to be with God always. This is always possible and doable. That’s because though he is the most mysterious being, he is also the most accessible. Though he is the remotest, he is also actually the nearest to us.

We have to learn how to handle this paradox. This is not an absurdity. It is simply a truth that is beyond the reach of our natural reasoning. It is attainable only when we make use of God’s gifts of faith, hope and charity.

We therefore should never take these divine gifts for granted. They are our constant means, our indispensable weapons. We really cannot make any real progress in our life-journey when they are not used.

Thus, St. Augustine once said: “The less a man has God in his thoughts, the less is his soul subject to God.” Of course, the reverse is also true: the more one has God in his thoughts, the more he is subject to God who loves, cares, protects and guides him to reach his final destination.

We should cultivate the proper attitude and skill of having God in our mind and heart all the time. This is actually a necessity that we have to freely attend to, an option that actually is not optional.

God never sleeps. His love and concern for us never wanes. As long as we entrust ourselves to him, we somehow manage to be attentive and watchful even if we need to sleep and are always subject to our limitations and the consequences of our sins.

He gives us his all-powerful and wise light, a light that, in the words of St. Augustine, is an “immutable light…not an ordinary light perceptible to all flesh, nor is it merely something of greater magnitude but still essentially akin, shining more clearly and diffusing itself everywhere by its intensity.”

A psalm expresses this truth more simply: “The Lord is good and upright. He shows the path to those who stray, he guides the humble in the right path, he teaches his way to the poor.” (Ps 24)

We should disabuse ourselves from relying solely on our human estimations of things. We certainly and unavoidably have to make certain human estimations of things, be it historical, social, political, economic, etc., but all of them should be inspired and guided by our faith, hope and charity.

Let us humble ourselves to acknowledge this truth and to act out its implications and consequences. We have to be wary of the many intoxicating elements of the world today that tend to deaden our sensitivity to this need for complete reliance on God, on our faith, hope and charity, even as we also need to make full use of our human knowledge.

Sad to say, there are many instances where we can see many people simply depending on their human estimations of things, making themselves practically the standard and the very law of things, frozen in their self-righteousness, confined in their own world.

It would be good that at the end of the day, we make a brief examination of conscience, putting ourselves in the presence of God, pleading for his light, and reviewing how the day went, seeing if indeed it is God and not just some earthly goals that we are seeking.

This is how we can be truly watchful, putting ourselves on track to our proper ultimate end.