It also helps at times to look at things in different ways, from different angles, completely upside-down or backwards.
Each year I have discussions with my confirmation class about the importance of obeying God’s laws and how this translates to joy in our life. It’s a discussion about the reality of God’s spiritual laws (Moral Law/Natural Law/Divine Law). The kids find it easier to understand if I open with an analogy using physical laws.
Gravity pulls us down and we attune our life and safety around it. The law of gravity does not change regardless of our opinions of it or how well we understand it. It also does not change if we choose to ignore it. No matter what, it still keeps us stable on the ground. Living in harmony with the law of gravity allows us to live a joyful life. Disharmony with gravity will hurt us or even kill us. We really never break the law of gravity, it breaks us!!
I run through this pseudo dialog with the class between two fictitious people referring to our classroom window, up on the second floor:
Person B: No, you will fall down.
Person A: That may be true for you, but it is not true for me. I truly believe with all my heart that I will fall up; it’s what my conscience tells me.
Person B: I hear what you are saying, but there is something called gravity that is not controlled by your conscience, so when you jump out that window, you will fall down.
Person A: I know about gravity too and I can see that you are very closed-minded about gravity, thinking it goes only ONE way for EVERYONE. Gravity can move different people in different ways.
Person B: I am open-minded. My mind is open to reality and if you jump out that window you will fall down.
Person A: You need to respect the beliefs of others. Not everyone sees gravity the way you do.
Person B: I do respect you, but you are wrong. Please do not jump out of that window and please do not lead others to jump out.
Person A: You had better change your “downward” way of thinking. You and your kind are on the wrong side of history about gravity and you are dragging down the rest of us.
Person B: Better to be on the wrong side of history than on the wrong side of reality.
It’s the same type of thing when we discuss God’s spiritual laws, which are inescapably linked to our faith and morals (and our joy). Whether it’s about respecting human life at the moment of conception to natural death or defining marriage as one man and one woman, God’s laws do not change regardless of human understanding or a lack thereof.
Another analogy the kids understand well revolves around sports. Let’s take basketball for instance; it has rules and officials. There are boundaries on the court as well. Does all this take the fun out of basketball? No, the rules, officials and boundaries make the game of basketball possible and make it exciting. Without them, no basketball player could ever fulfill his or her destiny as a basketball player. It’s the same with God's rules, God’s boundaries, and God’s officials (The Church). They make us free to find our destiny as human beings.
Spiritual laws are not meant to take the fun out of life; they are really laws of love and the boundaries are more like an embrace. The Good Shepherd tells us that if we live within these boundaries, He can protect us, guide us and love us; when we go outside of this embrace, He can't promise us these things. When we sin, we refuse God’s embrace in our life and then we wonder why we feel abandoned, depressed, prayers not answered, etc.....
Although this post was actually written a few days ago, it just happens to coincide well with the gospel for May 2nd that I read today by “mistake”. This was not planned, at least not by me. ;-)
“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11)