Some evenings ago I was awaiting the start of one of my very few favourite television programmes. An advertisement urging me to purchase a rather swanky car was being screened. ‘

Welcome to the age of intuitive driving’ I was assured! (I was then shown the dashboard of this vehicle. It resembled what I imagine the control panel of a Jumbo Jet resembled. As I am severely limited technologically and my computer skills exist in an enormous vacuum I judged that it would be fruitless to enter the car on my bucket list.)

Welcome to the age of intuitive driving

! It strikes me that we are certainly not in an age of intuitive Christian / Gospel living! I must really face the fact that there is no ‘default’ button or ‘programme’ which ‘kicks-in’ to produce intuitive Christian Faith living. Is this the result of the fact that I have failed to develop the habit of applying Gospel norms to each and every situation of my life and living? Is there something wrong with my ‘mouse’? Do I always know, intuitively, whether to click left or right? I have scores of long-suffering friends who will answer that last question with a resounding ‘NO’.

Have we been so ‘programmed’ that our Christian responses do not occur by default and have to be puzzled out – little by little – on a hit or miss approach

?

In

TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [PHILEMON 9b – 10. 12 – 17] Paul is definitely aware that the recipient of his Letter does not possess a Gospel ‘default’ system which will assure that when Onesimus (an escaped slave but, like Philemon, a recent convert to Christianity) arrives back he will be welcomed “as a beloved brother!” At issue here is Paul’s discernment that Philemon’s ‘default’ programme will follow the then contemporary social ‘programme’ of severe punishment for a returning runaway slave. Onesimus has obviously been of valuable assistance to Paul, and so the apostle makes an effort to remind Philemon that his ‘intuitive driving’ needs to be replaced with a hands-on Gospel steering wheel! Paul suggests that Philemon’s “goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will.” Philemon has yet to develop the habit of applying Gospel norms to each and every situation of his life and living.

It is no exaggeration that many of our own responses to situations are influenced by contemporary approaches which hold sway in the community where we live. These often produce our ‘default’ system. We are ‘programmed’ too easily. We could profitably recall last week’s reference to a dualism which has crept up on us. It is only when we are expressly challenged that we realise a particular situation or occurrence needs a second opinion.

“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.”

As Christians we need to develop the habit of having a second, Gospel, look at so many questions

. In addition we might find another thought from last week’s reflection helpful …. be careful of any sort of masquerade, and a smidgin of Gospel ‘default’ is insufficient. If we are called to make a ‘right click’ on our computer’s mouse then we should stop dithering around and DO IT! All too often it is the ‘left click’ which is the habit.

Here we are challenged by some words from our

OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [WISDOM9: 13 – 18b]. “What man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills?” If we are to discover this secret, we have to change our personal ‘programming’. Only then “does the Lord give success to the work of our hands.” {see TODAY’S PSALM – 90 or 89}.

Then

OUR GOSPEL EXTRACT [LUKE 14: 25 – 33] kicks in. The key to understanding the lesson therein must be found in seeing our cross not as some suffering or penance but as theparticular LIVES we all have to LIVE. This has to be done each and every day. Each one of us must “bear his own cross.” No one else can be expected to do this for us. This is the way to go after him, and we must be able to finish what has been started.

I must sit down and count the cost – it is mine alone and no one is capable of providing me with a ‘programme’ and ‘default’ button.

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