Monday, 17 January 2022

To triumph in life, you need integrity

HERE I am chasing my tail and we are not even a week into 2016 — it doesn’t bode well!

HERE I am chasing my tail and we are not even a week into 2016 — it doesn’t bode well!

What am I going to achieved in 2016? What about you?

A young man once approached St Philip Neri (1515-1595), a saint even in his own lifetime, famous for the lightness and precision of his spiritual touch — almost a saintly stand-up.

The student wanted to share good news. After two years of sweat and toil at the equivalent of The Henley College, he had passed with five A-starred A-levels and won a place at the most prestigious university (Cambridge obviously!) to study law as he wanted to become a lawyer.

St Phillip pressed him for more information. “And then?” he asked.

“And then,” the young man replied, “I will find the very best law firm in the country and finish my training with them.”

Again Phillip came back with “And then?”

“Well, after that,” the student said, “I will be a successful lawyer.”

“And then?” the saint asked again.

“Then I’ll join a law firm and build up my practice and become a partner.”

“And then?”

“And then people will speak well of me and I’ll have a good reputation and I’ll be briefed on important cases and people will want my opinion and I’ll make shedloads of money.”

“And then?” came the question once again.

“And then I shall lead an easy life, buy a lovely house by the river in Henley, marry the girl of my dreams, have wonderful, talented children, and be happy.”

St Philip asked a final time: “And then?”

As he considered the end of his life, it dawned upon the young man that in all of his life’s plans and dreams, he had made no reference to the will of God at all.

All our achievements — the gold, silver and bronze, the GCSEs and A-levels, the career, the marriage, the children, the recognition, all of it; and all our second-bests or failures — the promotion missed, the dead-ends, the divorce, the finding ourselves misunderstood and unappreciated; all of it has to be seen in a wider context.

Is life, the whole of life, yours and mine, a race towards a tragedy or a triumph?

Here’s a quotation from a somewhat less humorous saint (Paul) in his last surviving letter, written in the awareness of his imminent execution:

“... the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day...” 2 Timothy 4.

Integrity, resisting wrong, both in others and yourself, faithful trusting in God — with those we will not fail in 2016 and we will cross the ultimate finishing line, not in tragedy but in triumph and find our reward.

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