Friday, 17 August 2012

Driving Under the Influence...of Jesus

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

The vehicle in the left lane swerved in front of me. The driver neither signalled nor seemed to consider the distance between our cars. It took some self-control to not scream at him. Nonetheless, these thoughts resulted from this short encounter: “He needs some driving lessons or shock therapy”. The truth was that I needed to be more like Jesus. What this experience made evident was not the fact that there are bad drivers out there, but the fact that we all need to be witness to our Christian vocation even when we are driving. 

What would Jesus do? Clearly, Jesus did not have a car, but he rode a donkey or a colt several times. The Virgin Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem. I am sure they were considerate to their fellow donkey-, camel- and horse-riders. Consideration and kindness go a long way when it comes to sharing streets, avenues and highways with other drivers. While driving, there are a few things we can to help to build the kingdom of God:

1. Many of us spend a lot of time driving. Some of that time can be used to pray. We can certainly start our drive with a quick prayer for a safe ride both for us and our fellow drivers. Even short interjections such as “Our Lady of the Way, pray for us” or “Jesus, be my guide” can be very effective. One could also pray the rosary while driving, or reflect on a line from scripture. When we make prayer part of our ride, the way we interact with other drivers will be favourably affected.

2. Saint Ignatius Loyola teaches us to save the proposition of the other rather than to condemn it. What he means by this is that we ought to be more willing to believe that others are usually trying their best to say and to do what is right, rather than to think that others are usually careless with their statements and actions. When it comes to driving, we can begin by assuming that other drivers are trying to do their best but occasionally fail, rather than to assume that they are bad and careless drivers. We will find our driving experience more rewarding.

3. If we all are kinder while driving, the world will become a better place. I am not exaggerating. If we yield to others whenever we can, they will do the same to others. If we are careful in respecting traffic laws, we will make the lives of other drivers easier. It is more likely that they will arrive home or work in a better mood, and their interactions with others will be more life-giving. Next time you are driving, imagine that every other driver is Jesus. It will become easier to yield to him or to her. So much of our Christian vocation is about recognizing Jesus in others. And when this exercise proves to be a challenge, try seeing yourself as Jesus. Try to think, see and feel as Jesus does. Our mission in life is to have our hearts conformed to the Heart of Jesus. How would the Second Person of the Trinity interact with other drivers? I am sure he would be more patient with pedestrians and readily smile at his fellow drivers.

We are all called to drive under the influence of Jesus, and this is the only influence permitted while driving. Just as Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the desert, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to be our Guide and our Help as we drive. Every single one of His fruits will help us to become better drivers. Here's to hoping that many of us are accused of being kind, loving and life-giving drivers. May our next drive be an exercise in love, kindness and justice. May it be the inspiration to make all following drives equally as fruitful. May we always be mindful of our calling to seek and find God in all avenues and streets of this world, and to be disposed to fulfil our vocation to drive for the greater glory of God.

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