1 Timothy 4:12-16
In our first reading today, taken from the Letter to Timothy, Paul offers Timothy, encouragement, support and advice. Timothy is a young man, extremely talented and highly committed to Jesus Christ. But, he is young. He has a lot of energy and can rather easily dissipate his focus and energy by pursuing too many interests. Paul tells Timothy to continue in love, faith and purity; devote yourself to Scripture, preaching and teaching; do not neglect your gifts; attend to your duties; watch yourself and watch your teaching; persevere; keep busy. "As you attend to your duties, let them absorb you, so that everyone may see your progress."
For those of us living in today’s world, this advice sounds like calling someone to monastic living. Close out the noisy world. Keep focused on God and His Church!
We are constantly having our consciousness pulled this way and that. I get absorbed watching a pro football or baseball game, even shouting at the TV set on occasion. I get captured by a good movie and just let it take me along. I watch world news and let my consciousness travel to different time zones and mysterious places. Most of us do not "empty" our world of the many distraction or stimuli that are there. Does this mean we will be forever scatterbrained? Not necessarily.
We are called to be "quick change artists". I can enter this energy source or that. For the moment I seem to be totally absorbed there. But, almost instantaneously when I surface from that world, I can be back in the presence of God. A medical doctor can spend the day seeing patients, viewing them as biological bodies to be treated. When he gets home after a long day’s work and his young daughter greets him with a hug, she is a loving human being and not seen in biological terms. He has developed that ability to go from seeing life in one dimension to being able to see it in a very different way.
Not to get caught in a one-dimensional world requires some practice and training. We need to practice making these quick changes in consciousness. There is the practice of doing the Jesus Prayer. Say over and over again the little prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner". This becomes the background music of your inner self. It disappears when we must devote our attention to certain things but as soon as that attention is no longer needed, that little prayer is heard again.
It is amazing how we can live in such a busy and noisy world and still keep Jesus in the center of our hearts and lives.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.