Weekly Reflection

Week of 26 August 2019

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil.

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (RSVCE) ~

How can we know if something comes from the Holy Spirit or if it stems from the spirit of the world or the spirit of the devil? The only way is through discernment, which calls for something more than intelligence or common sense. It is a gift which we must implore. If we ask with confidence that the Holy Spirit grant us this gift, and then seek to develop it through prayer, reflection, reading and good counsel, then surely we will grow in this spiritual endowment.

The gift of discernment has become all the more necessary today, since contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good. All of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend.

This is all the more important when some novelty presents itself in our lives. Then we have to decide whether it is new wine brought by God or an illusion created by the spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil. At other times, the opposite can happen, when the forces of evil induce us not to change, to leave things as they are, to opt for a rigid resistance to change. Yet that would be to block the working of the Spirit. We are free, with the freedom of Christ. Still, he asks us to examine what is within us – our desires, anxieties, fears and questions – and what takes place all around us – “the signs of the times” – and thus to recognize the paths that lead to complete freedom. “Test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).

Pope Francis

Gaudete et Exsultate, 166-168

Almighty Father,

Give us the grace
of Your
Holy Spirit
so that we
might test what is
in our hearts.

Help us
to notice You
in our desires,
anxieties,
fears
and questions,
and with confidence
give us the courage
to respond
to Your promptings.

Help us not to listen
to the Evil Spirit,
but rather
always
yearn to hear You
in our lives.

Amen.

Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office | Jesuit Institute South Africa

Reflection prepared by Matthew Charlesworth SJ (@mcharlesworth)