Discernment: In today’s Scripture readings, James 4: 1-10, St. James asks us the questions: “Where do the wars and where to the conflicts among you come from? Is it not your passions that make war within your members?” In the Gospel, Mark 9: 30-37,the apostles are arguing about who will be first in the Kingdom.
In discerning God’s will for us in weighty or seemingly insubstantial issues it is important to examine our passions. What is driving us toward something we believe God is asking of us? Is it actually the Spirit calling us or is it our desire for prestige, for one-up-man-ship, for honors, for revenge or in order “to show them "I can do this" or that "I am better than others" or some other narcissistic motive? Are we having difficulty discerning the Spirit’s lead because we are caught up worldly matters and have taken our focus off of Jesus, have forgotten to “throw our cares on the Lord” (Psalm 55) or to “draw near to God.” St. James asks: “Do you not know that to be a lover of the world [and of secular goals] means enmity with God?” When I am interiorly disturbed or not a peace, when my sole focus is success as proposed by the world, it is that turmoil that I can easily project onto others. It is that “muddy” thinking that blocks me from seeing as God sees and that depletes my trusting the Lord and openness to the Spirit's lead. In those times I am seeking my will above God’s.