There is a simple law that governs all human existence. It is a reality that we should think about and ponder daily. St. Augustine stated it this way: "Whatever we contemplate, we become."
When we contemplate something, we take it inside us. It becomes part of us and has a profound effect on who we are.
The word "contemplate" means to gaze upon something, to allow something to occupy our mind and heart.
Think about television. We literally gaze upon it. It engages our mind and emotions. Study after study has shown that it has a profound effect on us. So what do you and I watch and contemplate? What messages are contained in the media we take into ourselves?
PHOTO | KELLY REDINGER
'God so loved the world that he gave his only son.'
There is no escaping the reality that we become what we contemplate.
It is interesting to think about "television programming" because that is exactly what it is. It is a process of programming human beings into certain ways of thinking and behaviour.
Advertisers and media producers know this and exploit the latest technologies to get us in line with their "program."
This is not hard to see. Think of the downward spiral of morality and behaviour daily promoted in movies, television and media. The bar keeps dropping lower and lower. Our society is swimming in a polluted sea of related problems.
This is not to say all media is bad. Most of us have been inspired by great movies or great programs.
The trouble is that the majority of media is destructive to contemplate. It is fashioning the human race into much less than God intends. Contemplating violence, immorality, egomania and foolish behaviour begets more of the same.
Christians today are being profoundly challenged. We are being challenged by our pope and others to spend more time contemplating Jesus and less time being seduced by the culture of death.
Encounter Jesus in prayer. Allow him to be more and more deeply absorbed into your heart and mind. This is the call for us all to answer.
In this week's Gospel we see the answer to the predicament which we face in our world: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."
These inspired words point us to believe in Jesus daily and look to him for our salvation. Believing in Jesus is a way of life. It is praying to him, contemplating him, and allowing him to work in us here and now. Jesus loves the world and every person in it. Only in him can this world find the answers we are seeking.
All of us are called to a deeper life of prayer and contemplation of Jesus.
Yes, it is a sacrifice to tune out the overwhelming media culture we live in. It is a sacrifice to carve out time for prayer and contemplation. But this sacrifice leads to true joy, true peace and the true fulfillment.
So, always remember, moment by moment, day by day – "Whatever we contemplate, we become." This is the explanation of what is happening in our lives and our world.
Lord Jesus, we offer every breath to you. Teach us to focus on your loving presence and become the people you call us to be.