21 October, Friday — The Spiritual After-Action Review

Friday of Week 29 in Ordinary Time

Eph 4: 1-6
Lk 12: 54-59

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the spirit by the peace that binds you together.

Today will be the last day of a major work event which I have been preparing for since early 2022. The journey of planning, coordinating and implementing has been an extremely arduous and stressful one, as my team members and I had to work through all sorts of challenges related to demanding stakeholders, event management and staff movement. Next week we will inevitably go through multiple post-event reviews to determine what went well and what we could have done better, but at this point maybe it is more important for me to reflect on whether I have worked (in Paul’s words) ‘in a manner worthy of the call (I) have received’ especially with regard to my teammates.

For instance, I think I have generally tried to be patient and helpful, also because my teammates are less experienced and hence often look to me as the ‘old hand’. But there have been times when I have given in to frustration and thus resorted to gossip to relieve stress (which is something that Jesus also mentioned in today’s Gospel passage). I also wonder whether I have been sincerely humble and gentle, or whether my constant efforts to help stem more from my own preference for doing things in a specific manner or inability to delegate (and accept that others may have their own ways of doing things). Indeed, perhaps I should also extend my review to how I have treated my family, who have generously put up with my fatigue and grumpy behaviour for the past few weeks.

This all makes me recall that I am often moved by Bible readings, homilies and reflections to create all kinds of good intentions — which I then forget about the moment I leave the church or close the app, and only recall guiltily when I realise how I fail to carry them out. Indeed, sometimes I wonder how I can discern and carry out God’s call when I cannot even obey His Word in the mundane, minute situations we encounter every day. But I trust that our Lord knows us better than we know ourselves, and He is more understanding and merciful than our bosses. In the words of a homily I recently heard, I trust that He knows that we are “consistently inconsistent”, and give praise and thanks that He is “consistently consistent”. I am grateful for the many, many, many, chances He gives us, and hope that I will persevere in my efforts to carry out ‘spiritual After-Action Reviews’ in our lifelong journey of repenting and turning back to Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jaclyn Lam)

Prayer: Lord, grant us the humility and self-awareness we need to learn from the times we fail, and the perseverance to keep turning back to You.

Thanksgiving: Lord, thank you for not giving up on us.


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