Living as a disciple of Jesus, you seek to always follow the will of God in your life. And while there are some areas in which we know the path to follow – thanks to Scripture and Church teaching – not everything in life is cut and dry. Sometimes we face decisions in which we must choose between two good things. Sometimes following the will of God brings happiness and peace to your life, and other times it brings suffering and persecution. That’s why discernment is so necessary in living the Gospel as a disciple of Christ.
Christian discernment is a decision-making process that seeks to align our own will with the will of God, in order that we may do what God is calling us to. During a recent Catechetical Corner on Go Ask Your Father™, Msgr. Stuart Swetland shared from Pope Francis’ Wednesday Catechesis, in which he pointed out that even from the beginning of the Church, discernment was a necessary and valuable practice in living and spreading the Gospel.
Pope Francis said in his address, “We now reflect on how St. Peter and the apostles respond with courage to those who wanted to stop the spread of the Gospel. Strengthened by the experience at Pentecost, the apostles became the megaphone of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the saving Word of God, which cannot be silenced.”
“In the midst of the Sanhedrin, which feels threatened by the apostolic preaching, a different voice is heard,” he continued. “The highly regarded doctor of the law, Gamaliel, demonstrates the art of discernment. Filled with prophetic wisdom, he invites the leaders of the people not to give in to haste, but to wait for developments over time.”
Pope Francis pointed out that just as Gamaliel was wise to encourage discernment, we are called to follow his example and listen to the Holy Spirit, in order to follow the will of God in our own lives and in our own time.
“This kind of discernment is valuable for the Church, because it invites us to be farsighted, to contemplate events and not to make hasty judgments,” Pope Francis said. “Discernment is an art that does not provide standardized solutions. It is an exercise of spiritual intelligence, carried out by the children of God who learned to see traces of the Father’s presence within history. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us acquire the habit of discernment, in order to learn that both time and the faces of our brothers and sisters are messengers of the living God.”
Msgr. Stuart Swetland concluded his Catechetical Corner encouraging listeners to practice the art of discernment in their own lives, and to listen to the voice of the Lord so that we may follow his will in all things.
“The disciples had to suffer, but the wisdom of the Holy Spirit was there saying to the leaders of the Jewish people that you have to discern what is of God and what is of man,” he said. “And that’s what you and I have to do. We have to discern and sort out the difference between what is of God and what is just of us. Because we must always follow God and not follow man if man asks us to do something that’s opposed to God or the things of God.”