Tuesday 16 April

12Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

It is a curious instruction, that seems also to have been a serious concern for Jesus who is reported in Matthew 5:34-37 to have said,

I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

I do not find myself often swearing “either by heaven or by earth or by any oath.” However, I do know that frequently my ‘Yes’ is not quite ‘yes’ and my ‘No’ is a divided half-hearted affair.

Frequently, I do not quite show up when I show up. I am only half there. Part of me is arguing with the situation. “I don’t really want to be here.” “I shouldn’t have to be doing this.” “I could be using my time better.”

I am not really present for whatever I am doing. James and Jesus agree, if I am going to show up, I should show up. I should be where I am. Do what I am doing.

When I am only partly present to a situation, I rob that situation of my presence. I do not listen attentively to what is going on. I am holding part of myself back, perhaps resenting the circumstance I feel forced to be in.

I make myself a victim of circumstance. Instead of freely choosing to enter into whatever is going on or having the courage and fortitude to change my situation, I stand with one foot in and one foot out. This is not living; it is pretending. I give the appearance of being present while holding a part of myself back. I present a pleasant a façade behind which, no one is home.

If I am unwilling to be where I am, I should choose to be somewhere where I am more willing to show up.