Our world is saturated with information, data and messages. Whether through radio, TV, internet or social media platforms, we are constantly bombarded by information in a constant competition for our attention.
More than previous generations, we are presented with a variety of choices that impact personal, family and social lives. Before us is an ever-present amalgamation of information seeking not only to sell us the latest trends or consumer goods, but also seeking to convey who we ought to be.
Without dismissing the good found in the variety and richness of our consumer-driven culture, we have to admit that its sheer volume and rapid accessibility often leaves us overwhelmed and wanting. While we find ourselves amid an abundance of stuff — whether words or material goods — we still long for something greater to give more meaning and purpose to our lives.
Deep inside, everyone can identify a desire that invites us to explore deeper and wider than what our immediate surroundings offer. In our spirituality, we discover that there is more to life than getting what we want or think we need.
Before our myriad choices is the deeper hunger and need to know who we genuinely are — and who we can be with and for one another. However, without proper attention, discernment of spirit and commitment to what is true to guide the way, our accessibility to information will, ironically, leave us empty.
The Word of God is a genuine word inviting us to authentic discernment, which never tires of calling forth the best in us. The Word of God is Christ. Confronted by the weight of Jesus’s words, teachings and demands, Peter finds his faith and fullness of life: “So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe that you are the Holy One of God’” (John 6: 67-70).
Like Peter and the first disciples who came to believe in the words of eternal life offered by Jesus, we, too, have to be confronted by the demands of discipleship. We know how difficult it can be to follow Jesus, especially in a climate that can be dismissive of and indifferent to faith. Our temptation can be to find the words and teachings of faith difficult and unattainable: “When many of His disciples heard it, they said: ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’” (John 6:60).
Still, as Catholics, we recognize that while the demands of discipleship and holiness may be hard, they are never far from our fidelity to the Master who calls us to pour out our lives in service, especially to the poor and suffering (Matthew 25:35-36). As Pope Francis reminds us, “In this call to recognize Him in the poor and the suffering, we see revealed the very heart of Christ, His deepest feelings and choices, which every saints seeks to imitate…Given these uncompromising demands of Jesus, it is my duty to ask Christians to acknowledge and accept them in a spirit of genuine openness…without ‘ifs or buts’ that could lessen their force” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 96-97).
How each one of us responds to Jesus’ call to be attentive and faithful to His words will no doubt correspond to our respective and particular vocation. Today, we hold on to the words of Christ that speak to us of spirit and life (John 6: 62-64).
F. Javier Orozco
First published October 19, 2018 in the St. Louis Review