During my nine-day retreat on life’s healing journey, I listened to a lot of presentations, talks and stories. One story in particular remains with me.
Peter Campbell was an American MSC and the co-founder of the Life’s Healing Journey Retreat Movement helping people deal with their hurts, pains and sufferings with the grieving, accepting and forgiving processes in the way of heart spirituality. One day he was invited to see this man who hadn’t been talking to anyone or even leaving his home for around ten years. So Peter went to see him. Over some time, the man started to share his story.
He was a very successful businessman who headed a successful company with his partner. That month, he came back from his cruise holidays with his family only to find out that his partner had taken away all the money of the company and run away. A quarter of a million dollars!
Saddened, angered and disappointed in everything, ten years on this man couldn’t do anything else but to isolate and distance himself from people and the world around him.
Peter, after hearing the story, asked this poor man if he had any friend at the time he lost everything. He did. And Peter asked if he could have borrowed some money in order to try to recover. He said he could have… Peter asked him to imagine if he could have tried to borrow some money and recover from the lost, how much more he could have made until now. He said that he could probably have made three quarter of a million dollars!
Peter said to him: “So you lost a quarter of a million and wasted three quarters of a million.” The man realised that he could have done better, he could have chosen better for his life.
At times, we feel we are put in situations, given things that we never wish for. But we always have a choice of what to do with it.
The readings this weekend reminds us that we always have freedom to choose: Freedom to choose God or idols (like the Israelites in the first reading), freedom to leave Jesus or keep following him (like the disciples in the Gospel reading), freedom to choose how to love one another in marriage life (as suggested in the second reading).
As Christians, we all probably decide to choose God. But more than often, we choose to worship the wrong images of God – a God of prosperity, might and power, a punitive and punishing God, a distant and immovable God, or a testing God. These are not the images of God that are revealed in Jesus. The God Jesus reveals, particularly in John’s Gospel, is a God who is with us, who cares for us to the point of not only feeding us what we long for but also giving God’s very self to nourish us, a God who is vulnerable to be broken and eaten so God can give life and life to the full.
No wonder it was too hard for some of the followers of Jesus to accept. Can we really accept this? Can we choose this God over our other false images of God?
Br Khoi msc