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There is a phrase my parents share with me every single time I go out the door: “Be safe, have fun, you know the rules … love you.” Whether I was a young girl heading to a friend’s house, a teenager dangling the car keys in my hand, a college student leaving for campus or an adult moving across the country to enter my religious congregation, I’ve consistently carried these sentiments out into the world with me. It has also inspired me to incorporate my own addendum — “make good decisions” — when bidding goodbye to family members and friends.
Biblical scholars spend their lives parsing out the significance of each phrase and individual word of Scripture; reflecting on history, linguistics, cultural layers, intention of the text and for whom it was written. This intrigues me: since grad school I have enjoyed reading scholarly research as I find it opens new doors to my own understanding (and I challenge you to consult commentaries and make your own discoveries).
In Matthew 7:6, 12-14, I find that Jesus also offers his disciples rules for the road in diverse denotations of his words; perhaps lessons offered at different times yet gathered neatly in the Gospel into verses (passed down initially in the oral tradition before written and organized) for our reflection over 2,000 years later. You’ve probably all heard homilies on each of the individual verses but when we think of them together, they offer wisdom too. I’ve pondered in prayer what it all means to me in this moment of my life journey, and invite you to your own prayerful discernment.
In verse 6, “Pearls Before Swine,” what insight do I have to share with others who do not have my best interest at heart? Am I giving fuel for arguments rather than striving to find common ground?
How am I abiding by “The Golden Rule,” not only because I want others to treat me nicely but to understand that we all walk on the earth together?
Looking through the famous “Narrow Gate” ask yourself, “how am I discerning the decisions I make rather than just blindly following others down the path?
Discernment is about listening to God and also making a series of what you believe to be the best choices in light of what you are learning and value, asking questions as you go.
This week I offer a few more questions for you to ponder:
What phrases have become important on your discernment journey?
What rules you have learned or created on this path?
How does Scripture guide you as you discern?
*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.