The Value of Having “Shaky Tires
6th Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2023
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him.
My father was an executive with the BF Goodrich Company. At age 18 I bought my 1973 Yellow Vega, and because it was used, it needed new tires, so, having observed my driving, he picked me up a set. Now this was the year when the national speed limit was reduced to 55 mph (what a time to get your first driver’s license!). I soon found out why these tires were “just right for me”. They were slightly out of round, which meant that they rolled smoothly until I went over 55 … then the car started to shake heavily. He had found a way to keep me at the speed limit! “Just right for me”. Right.
Those tires are long gone, but I often think of them as a metaphor for a good conscience. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit. If we are listening to him, if we have a well-formed and an in-formed conscience, it will act like those shaky tires … an early warning system when we are about to exceed God’s speed limits, doing harm to our relationship with God, others and, ultimately, ourselves.
Once again Jesus invites us to examine our lives. Who or what forms my conscience? We have to be very careful because Jesus makes it clear that the spirit of the world is often opposed to the truth, whereas the Spirit of the Lord leads us to the Truth, if we can bear to hear it. Our conscience is like an internal gyroscope; if it is correctly calibrated, our decisions and actions will bear good fruit and be pleasing to God; if we need realignment, we will recognize this if our actions and decisions are bearing bad fruit in our lives and the lives of others.
Who or what forms my conscience? A well-formed conscience will consist of three pillars: Does this follow what Jesus has taught in the Scriptures? Does this follow Church teaching? Is this action an act of love toward God, neighbor and myself, or am I pursuing my-self, my will, my way? This last question can be the hardest to answer, because, left to ourselves, we often reach for things that offer only immediate satisfaction, pain relief, or the path of least resistance. A conscience guided by the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will challenge us to grow, even though it is painful; to take the narrow road, even though it is not always the popular one; to love fully, even though it may cost us dearly. A properly informed conscience, thus guided by the Spirit of Truth, will ultimately lead us to peace, fruitfulness and joy in this life and the life to come.