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Religion: Chastened…for our profit

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

Few of us may claim there were no mentors on our lives. Even, if for the briefest of moments, there have been those who have assumed the mantle of advisor for us; even if we did not seek the gift. At times, they have been longer-term mentors, ready with advice, direction and even comfort. Yet, these people in our lives would likely not be called friends; at least in the classic sense. Often, perhaps too often, we relegate those who do not give us what we want as less than “friends.”

In the business world, the relationship between employer and employee is rarely considered to be convivial. In a very real sense, it is a tenuous contract between the two.

In its briefest form, the employer pays a certain amount for services; the employee performs those services by their labors. The waters get a bit muddied by emotions, politics, statutes and politics, but the essence of the definition remains the same. While there are some who “love” their employer, it says more about the social environment they work in, somewhat less about the company itself. Let us remember: the purpose of business is to make money, to make a profit. Without money, there is no business.

This is the rationale behind why we have all of the post-secondary educational institutions, corporate education settings, internet courses and a myriad smorgasbord of intellectual and managerial experiential options. The successful pursuit of our curiosity is often reliant upon those who have greater insights and experience than ourselves. In our careers, we frequently rely upon mentors.

A true mentor, who may not be even classified as a friend, may not always give us the news we want to hear.  A student, slacking in their studies, will hear the mentor be most direct in their appraisal of the cause of falling marks. A manager, filling the role as mentor and thus giving a performance review, will note the “opportunities for improvement,” as well as the successes since the last review. A parent, who discovers their child’s unruly behavior, restricts their progeny’s privileges until improvement is discerned.

Some of the mentors in our lives come and then quickly go. Some have been in place for a long, long time. Each duration has had a varied impact on us. Someone, who we knew for only a day, may have said, or done, something which has had a profound personal effect. Others, who lingered longer, may have had a similar impact. Yet, our mentors’ impacts may have not always been positive; not always for good.

We know, in the global “scheme” of things, our mentoring grandparents and parents are likely to precede ourselves. We slowly lose our earlier mentors and become more and more reliant upon what they have taught us. We may even be called upon to become mentors ourselves. We too may be called to correct, i.e. chasten, those within our kin. While not perfect, as we live in a most imperfect world, the post calls us to rise above our baser instincts.

The relationship with our Creator is much the same. In Saint Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews, he outlines the relationship between Christians and God, through Jesus Christ. He wrote, “[Jesus] chastened [us,] for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

Being corrected, for an error in judgement, or behavior, is so unpleasant to our egos. In truth, being chastened by the written word of God is anathema to our earthly sensibilities. Yet, the purpose of his corrections is not to do us harm, but to only do us a great good.

In our hearts, we know Christ Jesus is not only our friend, but he is also our Redeemer and the Son of God in Heaven. He is our life-long mentor and guide through this earthly life, as well as the one who will sit on the Judgement Seat on that glorious day.

Yes, we can take his chastening…for our profit!