Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Confronting the Duties of our State

Confronting the Duties of our State

The world is full of tragedies.  Christian churches are being torched daily in Egypt, civilians were recently gassed in Syria, there are senseless killings daily in the United States, and that’s barely scratching the surface.

These tragedies raise all sorts of issues and feelings among people.  Sometimes they can even make us question the validity of our own pursuits and struggles.  An example:

I am faced with the prospect of leaving my job in the semi-near future and I have no idea what I will do then.  The plans I had been pursuing seem to have fallen apart.  I also do not know what to do about health insurance.  Obamacare will make insurance completely unaffordable, and many of my options will be morally objectionable.  I thought medical sharing would be a solution, but my son’s medical condition precludes that as a realistic option.

I have been taking these issues to prayer often, and they have consumed much of my thoughts recently.  And yet, I remember, there are families in Syria whose dreams were wiped away in an instant.  Many people wonder how they will feed their children; I certainly don’t have that worry.  It definitely helps keep things in perspective.

But it can have a negative effect, too.  I can at times feel as though my concerns do not warrant so much attention.  It can feel selfish of me to focus so much of my energy on these needs of my family when so many others are facing so much worse.

But I believe that is the wrong approach to take.  It is true I must remain grateful for the blessings I have; I pray often for those suffering around the world, and try to be generous with my time, treasure and talent.  But though it is good to keep things in perspective, the grave concerns of others do not render my own insignificant.

My wife and family are my vocation.  Providing for them is my responsibility.  That is the charge that God has given me; none is more pressing.  I would be remiss in my duties if I were to lessen the importance of the responsibilities of my personal vocation out of some misplaced humility.  I trust that God will provide, but He has given me a definite work to do, and it begins with my family.

Very often people miss the blessings of what they have been given by focusing on what they lack.  I think we can sometimes fall into the complementary trap of missing the responsibilities we have because of the many troubles in the world we can not fix.

We can forget the charity we are to extend to our neighbor because of the plight of “the poor.”  We can fall into the trap of thinking that since people are suffering grievously in the Middle East, God certainly can not be interested in our problems.

Suffering remains a mystery.  But we have to believe that God has the suffering refugees in His Hand as much as He has us, and that, though we can not see it, He is providing the grace they need to obtain His promises, remembering that Heaven is the greatest promise.

We are called to alleviate the suffering of our brothers as much as we are able, and we are also called to fulfill the duties of our state in life.  We are called to prayerfully discern and live our vocation; nothing is more important.

Professor Peter Kreeft says that it is easy to love humanity, but difficult to love our neighbor.  The same may be said about our vocation.  It is easy to care about the needs of the world’s suffering, but difficult to tend to the needs of those God has put in our lives.  With His grace, may we do both.