THERE is a restlessness in many of us, one that makes us think about life and questions the varied facets of human existence.
It’s a divine restlessness because it urges us to contemplate on one’s purpose and meaning of life and the happenings of this world in different periods of its history. It’s what Tom Wrights posits in the opening chapter of his book, “Simply Christian,” when he writes about the echoes of a voice within us. He says:
“It is as though we can hear, not perhaps a voice itself, but the echo of a voice: speaking with calm, healing authority, speaking about justice, about things being put to rights, about peace and hope and prosperity for all. The voice continues to echo in our imagination, our subconscious. We want to go back and listen to it again, but having woken up, we can’t get back into the dream. Other people sometimes tell us it was just fantasy…But the voice goes on, calling us, beckoning us, luring us to think that maybe there might be such thing as justice, as the world being put to rights, even though we find it elusive.”
This restlessness resulting from the echoes of a voice within us is something positive then. And all we need to do is listen to it and respond to it with love, interest, and trust.
St. Paul recognizes these echoes of a voice as the Spirit of God dwelling in us. He says that we are not in the flesh; on the contrary we are in the spirit. He argues that if we live according to the flesh, we will die, but if we live by the Spirit we will live (Rom 8:9, 11-13)
And so, despite all the pleasures and allurements of this world; despite all the progress in infrastructures, technology, science and engineering; indeed, despite the human genius, we cannot forget that we have restlessness that urges us to seek the Divine, the Creator of all. We are made to live in the Spirit and abide by its truth.
It’s only with a humility of a child that we can submit to this truth. That’ why Jesus Christ prayed these words: “I give praise to you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” (Matthew 11:25)
This truth seeks not only justice but also beauty and depth in in relationship with God and other people. It’s a constant longing for the well-being of others, for peace and harmony in the world.
May we respond with love to these echoes of a voice—the voice of Jesus Christ that tells us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
Have a beautiful, relaxing, peaceful, and contemplative summer!
* * *
From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.