By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adapting to Conditions

Still in Rome for meetings of the Presidency of the CCCB with the Holy See, I read this morning in an online report of some nasty road conditions in Edmonton as the result of snow and icy roads. According to the report, civic officials were at pains to remind people to adapt to the conditions as they drove their vehicles. Pay attention, they said, not to the speed limit but to the conditions and adjust your actions accordingly. Just plain common sense, that. Yet, remarkably, many of us continue to be governed by habit and proceed as if nothing around us has changed. Cruise control with blinders. A commute along icy winter roads will demonstrate very quickly just how dangerous an attitude that is.

Harmful oblivion to our surroundings is not limited to winter driving. It is sadly characteristic of a society marked by self-focus and self-absorption. Often we need a rather unpleasant "wake up call" to bring us out of ourselves, notice what is happening around us and adjust our behaviour. A sudden fender bender on the highway is one example. The global financial crisis is another. The world is now suddenly alert to the interconnectedness of lifestyles, both individual and national, and realizing that we need to "adapt to conditions", such as we see happening through governmental change in Greece and here in Italy, and the imposition of financial austerity measures.

In the Gospel for Mass on Monday of this week (Luke 18:35-43), Jesus turns to a blind man who had been calling out to him and asks what he is seeking:  "What do you want me to do for you? The blind man replied, Lord, please let me see.

It seems to me that this is a request we would all do well to bring to the Lord. Please let me see. Please let me see, Lord, the reality around me. Let me not be so closed in upon myself - my desires and preoccupations, my worries and fears - that I actually become blind to the world around me. Please let me see, and help me adapt to the conditions around me - the conditions of the poor, the homeless, the sick, the lonely, the despairing. Help me so to adjust my lifestyle that they have a place in the ordering of my life. Open my eyes to the wondrous beauty of human life; help me to see clearly the current threats against it, and so to adapt my life that I do not neglect to speak and act in its defense. Expand the horizon of my view beyond the immediate. When I watch news reports of poverty and hunger in the Third World, help me really to see what I am seeing: one in desperate need who is, in fact, my brother or sister, and whose plight may in large part be due to lifestyle choices here at home. Assist me to know how I must adapt to these conditions and give me the desire and determination to do so.

Please, Lord, help us to see and to adjust our lives to your will and to the conditions of our brothers and sisters.