REFLECTION: Engaging the world PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:38



In fact, it is not only to engage the world, but also to love it, and as one saint would put it, to love it passionately. We need to have the proper attitude toward the world as it is, with all the good and evil that it has, with all its original beauty it still has and the ugly deformations it now suffers.

As can be gleaned from Christ’s prayer before his passion, we are in the world though not of the world. We are not supposed to be taken away from it, but neither are we supposed to be worldly, that is, to live in the world as if there is no God, as if the world is our ultimate domain whose developments, without reference to a God-given law, would comprise the rule that would govern us.

Obviously, we need to be most discerning and prudent so as not to get confused and lost. But we have to start with a healthy attitude toward it. We have to avoid being fundamentally negative about it, treating it as nothing other but a place of sin, of disorder, or where we can do absolutely anything without any reference to God.

To be prudent in our dealings with the world is never an excuse to be indifferent to it. We may have to separate ourselves from the world from time to time—all this as a matter of prudence given the limitations of our human condition—but we need to be immersed in the affairs of the world.

We need to understand the true nature and character of the world, its origin, its purpose, its history, etc., so that we would know the intrinsic relationship we have with the world.

We cannot limit ourselves to seeing it merely in its physicality alone, nor in the twists and turns of its historical and cultural development, nor in its exciting social, economic and political aspects, nor in the highs and lows of its arts and sciences.

We have to see it first of all from the point of view of our faith that reveals to us how it came from its creator, what designs its creator has for it, what to expect from it. This is the basic parameter to use in framing the whole business of how to engage the world.

For sure, the world did not just come to exist spontaneously. It came with a purpose. And the purpose ultimately is for our own proper development. Everything else in creation, in the universe, is actually made for our own good, we who are the masterpiece of God’s creation.

From here, we can already see the range and scope of our own personal, social, spiritual development. We have to understand that our growth toward maturity and perfection has to go along with the range and scope of whatever developments there are in the world.

That’s because the world is one important and indispensable locus where God and us meet. God speaks to us through the events of the world. He certainly may approve or disapprove of the happenings there.

This is not to mention that with his providence, he is always governing and guiding the world to its proper end. And we need to cooperate in that providence, since we have been created in his image and likeness, and as such, have been made also as stewards of the whole of creation.

We need to be more aware of this truth about ourselves in relation to the world, since we tend to ignore it or to take it lightly, and thus fail to correspond fully to our duties. Especially these days when there simply are a proliferation of new hot-button issues, not to mention the usual problems we have like poverty, injustice and the like.

Even if one is given a certain charism and vocation that leads him to separate himself from the world, as is the case of some hermits, monks and other religious, contemplative persons, he should understand that that charism and vocation of his is meant for the for the good of all men and women all over the world.

His isolation is simply a tactical element in his life, not meant to isolate him from the things of the world, but rather to immerse him, in some mysterious ways, in the world’s affairs.

For most of us, though, we are meant to live in the middle of the world. We just have to be aware of our duty to bring Christ and his message to it. This is how we can properly engage and love the world.