Overcoming our Desires

June 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

OVERCOMING OUR DESIRES BY FULFILLING THE DESIRES OF OTHERS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1 Kings 21:1-16; Matthew 5:38-42
http://www.universalis.com/20140616mass.htm

In the readings last week, we read how King David desired Bathsheba and he used all ways and evil means to make her his wife, to the extent of sending his loyal officer, Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba to be killed in the frontline of the battle field.  Today, we read about another craving that demands to be fulfilled.  King Ahab hankered for the vineyard of Naboth for his vegetable garden.  Like King David, he was incensed when he could not get what he wanted.  But he was much more subtle than King David.  When his craving could not be met, he manipulated his wife to commit the sin for him.  He refused to eat until his wife Jezebel could no longer tolerate his dispirited self.  So she planned to have Naboth accused falsely and put to death so that King Ahab could take possession of the land.

It is not difficult to identify ourselves with King Ahab and Jezebel.  Isn’t it true that we also throw tantrums when we cannot get what we want in life?  We become unreasonable, sad and depressed.  Like spoilt children, we begin to manipulate our loved ones to get for us what we cannot get ourselves.  We know that because they love us, they will not be able to say no to us.  By doing so, not only have we sinned by wrongly procuring what does not belong to us, but also in leading others to sin as well.

How then can we overcome our cravings for things or persons that do not belong to us?  The key is given to us in the gospel.  Jesus says, “If anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him.  Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.”

Yes, the only way to overcome our greed and avarice is to learn to be generous and grateful.  This is the antidote to our self-centeredness.   When we learn how to give, we no longer focus on ourselves and our selfish desires.  Instead we begin to feel with others.  As we identify ourselves with those who are in greater need than us, we become more grateful for what we already have.  In this way, we learn contentment.  Indeed, generosity through the giving of self and our possessions inculcate in us the spirit of sufficiency.   We realize that what we have is more than enough for us instead of focusing on what we lack.

https://i0.wp.com/www.positiveparentingconnection.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Gratitude-is-the-hearts-memory-a-French-proverb1.jpg

Hence, let us begin by thanking God for the blessings He has showered on us.  Let us count our blessings instead of our woes.  As St Paul exhorts us, “In all things give thanks.”  So let us reflect on what the Lord has blessed us with in this life.   When we learn how to thank God, we will gradually increase the spirit of gratitude. 

https://i0.wp.com/www.storybleed.com/wp-content/uploads/generosity1.jpg

Secondly, we must begin practicing generosity in small ways.  We can help a poor person, write an encouraging note to someone, visit the sick and the elderly or just by being kind in our dealings with our spouse, children and colleagues.  When we consider how kind God is to us, we will not begrudge the blessings that God gives to others.  It is true in the case of King David.  God reprimanded King David for failing to appreciate all that He had done for Him, giving him the kingdom and protecting him from his enemies.  Similarly, God had blessed Ahab with many favours, and yet he returned kindness for greed and injustice.  It behooves us therefore that we should be grateful for what we have, so that our hearts will also become as magnanimous as God is towards us.

However, there is one qualification when generosity should not be practiced; when it is a sin.  In the case of Jezebel, she was an accomplice to the crime of King Ahab.  In fact, she was the murderer.  On the surface, it might appear that she committed sin for King Ahab, but in truth she also did it for herself in order to alleviate the sadness of her husband as she was affected by him.  In such situations, one cannot partake in what is immoral or evil.  The right thing to do is to be firm on what cannot be compromised, for such a giving would also destroy others and worse still, when others are also impacted by the fulfillment of our sinful desires.

https://i0.wp.com/www.prayerrelay.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Mother-Teresa-meme.jpg

But if we are unable to overcome our sinful desires, what else can we do?  We must turn to God in prayer like the psalmist.  “Give heed to my groaning, O Lord.  To my words give ear, O Lord, give heed to my groaning.  Attend to the sound of my cries, my King and my God.”  Only God can fulfill our loneliness and desires at the end of the day.  Like the psalmist, we must turn to God and pray fervently.  We can be confident that such a prayer would be heard for God listens to the prayers of those in pain as He is our King and Father.

WRITTEN BY THE MOST REV WILLIAM GOH
ARCHBISHOP OF SINGAPORE
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Retrieved from http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.x9pSM84w.dpbs

 

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Entry filed under: Catechesis.

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