"This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you." (John 15:12)
"Jesus took Peter, John, & James and went up to the mountain to pray." (Luke 9:28)
What are we living for?
This is the basic question answered with the second point.
We are vulnerable to drifting and even being lost without a purpose and direction in our life.
This can be as formal and elavated of a vision as the Baltimore Catechism tells us, "to know, love and serve God and to be happy with Him forever", to as basic and mundane as "to be the best person that I can be". It can be my discernment of God's call for me or simply my natural desire to make a difference in the world.
I believe that here as in all of the points of the "Daily Seven's" our vision will reflect where we are in our spiritual journey and it is open to evolve as our awareness of ourselves and our relationship to God and creation evolves. Renewing our vision for the purpose of our lives can rescue us from the trap and resulting disillusionment of "doing the same old thing" or it can be an opening to pursue our strongest creative urges to live in union with God.
What matters most is that I have a direction and purpose for the day so that I am living the day actively. Each moment is dedicated to what I believe is God's will for me and not just passively reacting to pressures around me pulling me to give attention to the "squeekiest wheel." If you don't relate to "belief in what God's will is for you," then choose to think in terms of what life is calling you to.
This point has been difficult for me to explain clearly. I know that it is essential for us to grow spiritually but it seems to vary for me on a particular day.
I think that it is important to state the ultimate vision for which we are living. For a Christian, that would be to live for God and for our response to God’s call to be one with His will and to enjoy the heavenly ‘banquet” for eternity at the time of our death. We are also to live the vision of the Church to accept the salvation that Jesus has brought us and to bring His Good News of salvation to all. We ultimately are to be evangelizers here on earth and beholders of God’s “face” on the other side.
Then, we have our daily vision for living which is a tailored vision of the ultimate vision that applies to this day. More often than not, I select this vision from the Scripture Readings of the day or from my daily spiritual reading. It may be that I reach out to those in need today. Or, it may reflect a Gospel passage about loving our enemies. Often, the daily vision for me is to radiate the joy of knowing that I am abundantly loved by God.
It is good to also articulate the vision of our purpose for living life at the beginning of the new Church or calendar year or at the beginning of Lent. I answer the question, “What do I believe that God is calling me to this year or this Lent?
This came to me at the beginning of this year as a result of what surfaced during the season of Advent and Christmas during my prayer time. Two images especially reflect this vision. It is really a two-fold vision. One is to “leap” from the “arms” of comfort and security into the “arms” of the needy. The other is to nurture my ministry with the care and dedication that I would give to having a newborn baby and knowing that I was committed a good twenty years to form that child.
The images and stories that gave me this vision are the following.
I read a Christmas story of a family that was traveling from a family trip to Las Vegas back home to California in time to celebrate the Christmas of their nuclear family together on Christmas day. They stopped at a café for breakfast along the way and encountered a homeless man there who was obviously homeless by the signs of his ragged clothes, disheveled hair, strong body odor and missing teeth. Their 18 month old boy became enamored with the man and picked up on his baby talk. The parents and brother and sister of little Luke were embarrassed by the whole scene and were eager to exit as soon as they had finished their meal. They attempted a graceful exit that would elude the man’s path but he got up to leave at the same time and his and Luke’s paths crossed close enough that Luke leapt from his mother’s arms into the old man’s arms. It was an encounter that brought tears to the man’s eyes as he caressed his new little friend and handed him back to his mother saying, “Thank you. This has been the happiest day of my life. Take good care of the little guy.” The mother left the café crying herself and muttering through the tears, “Forgive me, God. Forgive, me!”
It was after reading that story that I also said, “Forgive me, God for all of the times that I have held back from the needy.” And, I asked for the grace for the coming year to “Leap into the arms of the needy.”
The other image came from my annual holiday visit to friends, a young family in Indiana. This year I discovered that the two of them, each 41 years old, had just conceived a child and were challenged to be generous with this new unexpected call to parent another child to adulthood. Their example stretched my heart too as I realized that I was approaching my ministry as trying to make the expectations match my energy and probable very limited life expectancy because of the cancer currently under treatment. As a result of this life experience with my friends I am praying for the grace to approach my ministry with as much effort and care as if it needs twenty years of careful nurturing and formation. It may not be me who caries out the ministry to its maturity but I need to find those who will share the vision and be dedicated to keep the maturation going.
I go into these examples to help you see how our life’s circumstances greatly effect how we particularize our vision for life.
We each need to discover our own concrete vision for our purpose in life. And, we do it by reading the signs of the times in our own life events.