Web of self-pursuit

fr royWe have to be wary of this present danger. In our effort to gain knowledge, power, wealth, influence and other human ideals, we might end up simply pursuing ourselves and not God, the real and ultimate goal for all of us.

This is happening in vast and massive proportions these days. With our new technologies, we are always tickled to get more information; to talk and communicate more; to share insights and experiences.

Research work these days, for example, is almost like a walk in the park. No sweat really. Just type a few words on the Internet, and, voilá, you have all sorts of data and information at your bidding.

The landscape of our business and politics, and especially our social life, has morphed drastically. Depending on our attitude, the number of both our friends and enemies has multiplied also.

For sure, there are now many great benefits and advantages we are enjoying. But let’s be aware of the catch. For all these good things can intoxicate us; we can also easily fall into insulating ourselves from God — and even from others — as we become more and more self-centered.

The rise of couch potatoes in our midst is proof of this. The increase of laziness and indifference is another one. And even those who may be driven by some passion while using our new technologies may just be feeding their own egos.

They may enjoy efficiency, flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and many other human and worldly values…They may gain more knowledge, power, wealth, fame while using these new technologies, but these may not bring them any closer to God. On the contrary, these may even bring them further from Him and from others.

In the Gospel last Monday, there were many instances of people enjoying great blessings and privileges, and yet all these did not make them better persons. In fact, they became monsters.

St. Paul once said in his Letter to the Romans: “God has given them the spirit of insensibility. Eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear.” (11,8) And that’s because they have made gods of things and of themselves, rather than worshipping God. They have become ungodly.

Again, St. Paul describes this danger vividly: “For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things.” (Rom 1,22-23)

Of course, these days, our new idol are the new technologies that draw us into a sticky web of self-seeking. We are just pursuing our own comfort, our own convenience, our own interests.

Anything that goes beyond these and can give a semblance of love, compassion, justice are purely accidental, not intentional. Or it is simply used as a smart cover for a selfish ulterior motive.

This is what we have to be most careful about. That’s why we have to be most vigilant, starting with strengthening our belief that everything comes from God and belongs to God, and that whatever we do should always be for His glory.

That’s what St. Paul said: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10,31) God, not us, is the one who gives true value and worth to anything that happens in life.

We have to be watchful of our passions that usually want to dominate us and to lead us along paths of self-satisfaction. They need to be purified, disciplined and led by the trio of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity that enable us to live our life with God, and not simply by ourselves.

We should not be afraid of the discipline of self-denial mentioned by Christ Himself, since that discipline can only be for our own good. Especially in these days of Lent, let’s train ourselves more intensely in the spirit of penance and sacrifice. Let’s be generous in this area.

Let’s see to it that our recourse to the new technologies, and our pursuit of our curiosities, desires and ambitions are always grounded on love for God and for others. They should make us more pious, more compassionate and merciful. Yes, they should make us holy. In the end, holiness is really the goal of our life.

Let’s always check our intentions. Let’s see to it that this love for God and other palpably grows, and just as palpably, that our self-love wanes and eventually disappears.

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