Friday, March 30, 2012

Discernment and Good Works

"If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works." Jn 10:38

Discernment is a critical tool and virtue for Christians. Our role as disciples of Jesus Christ is to proclaim the freedom of the sons and daughters of God and build God's reign. How we do this is called discernment. Jesus himself told us not to cast pearls before swine, a rather harsh but clear example of discernment. Discernment is what allows to know how to proclaim God's word with power and hope. Some may be called to organize other Christians to build hospitals and schools. Others, like Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers, hear God's call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked directly. Both kinds of works are necessary, but each of us is called to some of the works of mercy, not all of them at once. Discernment allows us to know which of God's works to do today.

In today's gospel, Jesus has done his best to work on God's behalf and announce Good News, but his message is resisted, especially by the leaders of the Jewish community. He has no choice but to try other paths and to plead that even if the leaders resist his claims to be a Son of God, they judge him by his works and good deeds.

We must do the same. At different stages in our life, we will be called to change for the sake of God's mission, and while change is always difficult, it is necessary for the word of God to be spread to all the nations. At other times, our mission and discipleship will be ridiculed and our intentions questioned. None of this should matter to the believer. We can and will change our behaviors in order that God's word might be heard more clearly, but we must also announce God's love by our concern for those most in need. People may not agree with us, but they will not be able to deny that the works we do help others to live fuller human lives.

Today, try not to worry about how effective you are. Let God work in and through you.

Have your motives ever been challenged?

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