At yesterday’s Weekly Manna gathering, the reflection was offered by my colleague Jennifer Wright. Jennifer took as her starting point the beginning verses of the 12th chapter of Romans.
Paul writes: “Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Jennifer opened with a simple question. How can we not conform ourselves to the world given that the world has helped shape our understanding of what is right and good? And to complicate matters, “the world” not only includes things that might lead us astray in determining what is right and good, but it also includes our brothers and sisters, who often help us to ascertain the correct path.
Ultimately the question is, how do we discern what is right, what is good and perfect. And we had a good discussion about how we discern, with different people sharing their modes of engaging in discernment.
Whatever our method for prayerful discernment, Jennifer’s opening thought is a good one to keep in mind. It is easy intellectually to understand that we are not meant to conform to the world, but we also need to be cognizant of how much the world in which we live has shaped our understanding. And to be aware of what is influencing our notion of what is right, what is good and perfect.
How appropriate, the swirling controversy arising from the HHS birth control requirement and the Catholic Church has ignited a fire storm. The opportunity for dignified discernment, discussion and compromise should be embraced – our known (and unknown) behavior, beliefs and attitudes on the subject are intertwined almost exponentially.
“Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Can we thread the needle? I believe, God welcomes the discussion…