2Corinthians 13: Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong--not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. 10 So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
St Paul sets out the cutting edge of Christian faith. Those who follow Jesus are not free to do as we please. We are to test our lives against the truth – “for we cannot do anything against the truth”. And there are leaders such as Paul who have been given authority over us “for building up and not for tearing down”.
This runs counter to the dominant permissive culture we live in – one that emphasises personal freedoms at the expense of the welfare of the community. Many people in our society live to a common creed of “If it feels good, then do it!” This is life without restraints; life that does not ask “what is right” ; life that no longer lives “only for the truth”.
We can be different. I recommend the Jesuit spiritual practice, which calls for a daily examen: this is a moment at the end of each day when we examine our day with the intention of living better the next day. This builds on the instruction of St Paul to “examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith (2 Cor 13:5).
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?
Fourth Sunday after Trinity
35 The Cost of Servanthood
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 219.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.