Saturday, November 5, 2011

God's GPS

I happened to read a passage from Deuteronomy today and thought of a GPS. Since getting a Garmin GPS to help me in my travels last year, I've been pretty impressed. It certainly was very helpful to me when I had to maneuver around the freeway system of Los Angeles. Here's the passage from Deuteronomy 30: 11-14:

For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, "Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?" Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?" No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.

One way of thinking of "this command" in the passage is as the conscience which is part of every human person. Every person has an innate sense of right and wrong, of fairness. One boy hits another on the playground and the one who has been struck demands the opportunity to hit back to make it all "even-steven." There is an innate sense of the need for balance. Or if either sex is shown favoritism by a teacher in grade school, the other sex cries out that it is "unfair." These are not lessons that they learned from adults but a basic sense of fair play. It comes from their conscience.

St. Paul recognizes this as well in his Letter to the Romans, Chapter 2. In verse 14 he recognizes that Gentiles can "observe the prescriptions" of God's law "even though they do not have the law," even though they have never been taught the law. "They show the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them..." (verse 15).

Our conscience is an internal GPS guiding us in the right direction. But, as Paul indicates, our thoughts and desires can come into conflict with our conscience. We can then choose a path different from the one this God-given GPS indicates. Our conscience, if it is well formed, will protest "Recalculating!" It will try to get us back on track, going in the right direction. Tired of listening to our conscience, we might choose to turn it off.

Besides this spiritual GPS, God gives us two other helps for our journey through life to the goal of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. One is the Son, Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (see John 14: 6). He is the Truth about what it means to be a human being and the Way that leads to Life. He is the map that lays out the best path to follow to God's desired destination for us--heaven. We not only follow his teachings which guide us on our journey but we have him present with us in the Eucharist. He unites himself to us so that together we will take the best path.

The other help that we have is the Holy Spirit whose name, Paraclete (see John 14: 16), has many meanings including Guide. With such divine help, we have even more than a spiritual GPS. We have a power that not only points us in the right direction but also, as it were, takes the wheel with us. United to Jesus in Holy Communion and filled with the Holy Spirit, we do not drive alone but God is holding the wheel steady and helping us drive when we feel lost or too tired to continue.

Our conscience. Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit. God is doing everything possible to make sure we don't get off track on our journey through life. We just have to be humble enough to accept the help.

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