Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Importance of Chance Happenings in Our Lives

This month, September, the Catholic Church in Korea remembers the martyrs.  Retired Bishop Dupont spoke at the Myong Dong Cathedral in Seoul on the martyrs; he wanted those in attendance to reflect on the times we have experienced "chance happenings."

Jesus often spoke of "faith and understanding," the bishop said. Martyrs not only believed  but understood Jesus. Isn't that their experience of Jesus? The bishop asked.

In our lives, there are many things that we consider chance happenings. They are the  means by which God wants us to experience him. Jesus often said, "Believe God....Believe my words."  In the believing of belief, we understand. Jesus asked the apostles: "Do you still not understand?....Now do you understand?"  What is understanding as it relates to faith? the bishop asked.  It is mature belief, belief that is not shaken, belief that accepts Jesus; it is tranquil faith. The martyrs lived a belief that was informed by understanding.The martyrs understood they would  be with Jesus even in death.
 We can also experience Jesus in daily occurrences, but we don't make much of  them, letting them pass, and so we miss the opportunity to benefit from these "chance happenings." In Korea, dreams, what we hear or see has a deeper importance but the bishop would like us to focus more on small happenings in our lives.  The bishop says they are the way we encounter God. These small incidents can nurture the faith experiences from which understanding will come.

The bishop quotes Einstein as saying there is no such thing as chance; there are reasons for everything that happens.  Let us suppose, the bishop says, that while wearing his  bishop's  clothing  he helps an old man who has fallen by the side of the road; this will make  the newspapers. If he does it in his ordinary clothes, no one hears about it. In  the same way, he says, God is involved in our lives, but we are not conscious  of it.

The martyrs, however, were conscious  of God's presence in their lives, and we too can become conscious of God's presence in our lives, the Bishop says, if we look more closely at the small things that happen and try to see the hand of God in those events.

We often say all is grace. All is a gift. All is a miracle. We try to find words to describe this world that is seen and understood only with the eyes of faith. It is a world that awaits all of us in the "chance happenings" that come to us repeatedly. We need only observe with the eyes of faith not to miss these movements and moments of grace.

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