Changing channelsBy Fr. Francis Ongkingco
Cebu Daily News
Julia and her son were watching television together. Suddenly, an inconvenient scene appeared. The son looked at his mom and she returned his gaze, “…want anything, honey?”
“Can you please change the channel, mom?” he requested.
“Why?” she was surprised. She felt that the inappropriate scene which only lasted for a few seconds was nothing compared to some things hosted over the Internet or published in magazines.
“Because I don’t want to lose my capacity to love,” was her son’s very simple reply.
[CLICK!] Julia immediately ceded to her son’s request. This profoundly struck Julia but she didn’t want to show Steve how she felt.
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How many times do we also have to learn how to change channels throughout the day? The world we live in is full of distractions –both good and bad– that sometimes can affect the way we love God and neighbor.
Undoubtedly, we have to change channels or block websites that explicitly reduce men and women into a sex machines. We have to react intelligently and promptly so as not to allow them to stain and distort our senses, less their indecent and poisonous tentacles lure us into the tar pits of lust and promiscuity.
Changing channels, however, cannot be reduced only to these types of threats against personal dignity and integrity. We must also learn to change channels in the more ordinary and current fields of our duties and leisurely concerns. For anyone engaged in a positive battle of love for God and neighbor, he must change from channel ‘ego’ to channel ‘others’.
In more common spiritual terms, changing channels is called rectifying one’s intention or aligning one’s will with God’s will. No one is perfect, but this is no excuse not to try to do better every day. Thus, in this effort there is always room for improvement, rectifying to avoid the selfish snags brought by pride, attachments, talents and projects.
Concrete examples can be found in the manner we carry out our conversations with family and friends. How many times do the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ appear? Are we quick to shift the conversation towards the others and readily listen to what they value and how we may keep such concerns in mind in our prayers?
Another is in the atmosphere of work. How do we work: isolated or too demanding to only want things our way? Are we ready to make some adjustments, to foresee difficulties and inspire others to finish a demanding job to the end? Do we set conditions that may make it difficult for others to work with us?
In the case of our rest and leisure do we think first of our own rest before the others in our family? Do we feel we are entitled to rest first and to be served by others before we offer them a hand? Are we ready to forgo certain comforts and material gain in order to make family life more pleasing?
Shifting channels in these areas offer us many opportunities to grow in virtue. Moreover, in this constant effort to always change from the channel of self-love to loving others, we gradually allow the presence of God to permeate our unique spheres of competence.
Aside from these material examples, there is also a need to be vigilant over our interior potencies, that is, our thoughts, imagination, memory and feelings. Perhaps, this poses a greater challenge because the world of our interior faculties are not easily anticipated and handled in the same way we do with material things.
For example, there are numerous occasions when we easily fall into judging others simply because of a vague negative emotion about something or someone. We experience limbo moments of wishful or envious thoughts and impure or vengeful temptations. And there are also the arduous ‘don’t feel like it moments’ which cascade into seeking our own comfort, wanting compliments, and falling into a vortex of victim-complex.
Virtue in such cases consists not in annihilating our internal emotional shifts and turns, but using them as reminders (like alarm clocks to wake us up). But our wakefulness ought not to address the simple fact of our defect, –this only gives way to sadness and discouragement– but how the occasion of weakness out to urge us to turn away from ourselves and instead face God by saying a prayer, offering a small sacrifice or service, seeking spiritual guidance, or swallowing our pride, etc.
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Julia shared the ‘changing channel’ incident with her husband. He became pensive and asked, “Could he have learned that in the Boy’s Club we used to send him to?”
“I guess so, where else do you think he picked it up?” Julia replied.
“Even though we may have to again spend extra, I think we should bring him back. It will do him a lot of good,” Steve’s dad concluded.
Tags: Religion & Belief