"Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” – Lk. 11:17
I promised myself I would not do this: I would not go into politics.
I will not.
Oh, what the heck! Our country is a mess right now... a house divided. How can it even stand? In any given newsfeed, one can find the comments of “trolls” - a term not to describe the cute little things in the new movie but the people who lurk on social media and spread hate and negativity through their posts. These comments say much less about the issue and much more about these trolls. Sadly, these trolls usually tread at the superficial level, never really listening, just reacting.
Jesus had his trolls. Heal the mute? Cast out demons? Do good? Those trolls reacted, “There is no way that God is in this work. He must be using the powers that come from another source. He must be working with the devil!”
The question I wonder today… how many times have I done the same? How many times have I reacted to others and trolled them, judging and demonizing them?
We have to be on guard to this trolling. We have to recognize that the enemy wants us to be in a mess. A house divided. So how do we do stop trolling? How do we make the house stand?
We don’t do what trolls do.
We don’t tread at the superficial level. We go deep.
We don’t comment. We listen deep.
We don’t react. We dialog and discern deep.
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius asks the one doing the retreat (the retreatant) and the director of the retreat “to presuppose the good.” It is a trust that the retreatant and the director are both listening deeply to the spirit. It requires that they be transparent, to listen to and dialog with one another. That is how discernment works. How often I have heard this presupposition of the good given out of context, that we presume the good of something and then dismiss or ignore whatever that something may be, however challenging it may be. This is an error. St. Ignatius advises us to pause over things that causes us to be moved by emotion or those things that seem to be most especially dry. In Spanish “para ‘sentir y gustar internamente las cosas.’” We are asked to approach those things with a greater attention to detail, with a stronger intent to listen to the spirit and with each other. It demands our transparency. It demands our depth. It demands our dialog and discernment.
During this lent, how can we do this? How can we go deeper, huh? Not be trolls, huh? Let’s listen. Let’s dialog. Let’s discern and not get into politics.
Eddie Ngo, SJ