We currently live in a fast-paced technology-driven world where minds are continuously being inundated by new information. One unfortunate result of this is our reduced attention spans which have fallen to eight seconds, compared to twelve seconds in 2000. I, too, am affected by this. When I am on Facebook, I tend to quickly scan through headlines on my newsfeed just to know what is going on. I rarely read the content or watch the videos. After that, I would do something else. A short time after, I would get antsy and would look for another thing to pursue. I even get bored when watching a movie and would go to Wikipedia to check its plot then decide if I should finish watching it or not. This issue also spills over into other areas of my life, especially the spiritual. How often have I been in prayer when suddenly my mind would wander somewhere else? Or wonder what I would do for a full hour before the Blessed Sacrament?
In today’s Gospel, Mary kept all her experiences with Jesus in her heart. She pondered and thought about them constantly all her life. She was not distracted by daily life because she knew Jesus was the center of it all. Reflection does not just occur instantly. It happens when we take time, usually in silence, to process what is happening. And yet, even though she might not have fully understood what God’s plans were, she fully trusted and obeyed His will.
Taking time to ponder and reflect on God’s presence in our lives should be a daily habit. One way to do so is to practice the Examen prayer where we look at our day and see how we have encountered God. Sometimes, however, finding the time and spending that time is challenging because we would feel the pull to tap or click and look up the next new thing. I now appreciate how, in the seminary, we have disallowed the use of our mobile phones. Internet access is only available in certain areas, primarily where classes are held. This has given us space to be away from the digital world. We can then focus more on Christ and encounter others more wholly without added distractions. It is not easy, but carving out time to be alone with Jesus is a good first step to deepen our relationship with Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more experiences we will be able to keep and ponder in our hearts.
By: Sem. Richard Anthony Lim
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.