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Friday, August 14, 2009

Possessing All Things

At Mass this morning somebody offered an intention that caught my interest. “I thank the Lord for taking away all my things – all my hip things – so that I became what was left. And I pray that He take away my friends things so that they become themselves.” That had me thinking for a while. After Mass, she told me that after she lost all her stuff, she realized that she was a big fake. But in the last 6 months, she has noticed that she has changed. She is happier and even though she is by herself more now, she is less lonely than before. She is more honest with herself and others and is free. Talking to this joyful woman was a true blessing.

It got me thinking about how often in our society we try to avoid pain. We spend much of our energy and resources in an effort to make ourselves comfortable. But being comfortable could be one of the worst things for us – especially for us Christians. It isolates us in an artificial and sterile version of life. The times that I’ve felt most alive have been the times with people who are not living a comfortable life. They know what it is to suffer and to sacrifice, to love, to laugh, and to cry. They have learned what it is to be community and to put their faith completely in God.

Jesus put it like this: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24) Or again: “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8:35) When we stop living for ourselves, it is then that we truly come alive and experience everything that God made us for. There is a certain freedom that comes with that abandonment to God’s will and detachment from the world when we reject the materialistic, hedonistic, and individualistic life that we are told to pursue - one that is in stark contrast to the life of the early Christians. In no way did the disciples try to make themselves comfortable. Rather, they answered the call with courage and as a result found great joy, even amid the trials and sacrifices that they endured. May we strive to to the same.

“[I]n everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness, at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (2Cor 6:4-10)

2 comments:

The Hickman Six said...

great story bro. thanks for sharing. it's always good to get a little reminder every now and then, why i don't have much stuff anymore! haha!

Arleen Spenceley said...

Agreed! In fact yesterday (which is when I first read this story), I had already started going through a box of things I swore I couldn't part with when my family moved from the house I grew up in to the house we live in now. It hit me, both before I read your post and even more afterward, that so many of the things I'd held on to for so long...meant nothing to me now. And that's really how earthly possessions should be, I realized. And if my things, hip or not, are useless in my room, what's the point of keeping them? I ended up going through everything I own. So I write this from a beautifully bare room (with bags of stuff to give to to people who need them more than I do). And I've got a distinct sense of freedom. Like a weight's been lifted, sincerely!

"There is a certain freedom that comes with that abandonment to God’s will and detachment from the world when we reject the materialistic, hedonistic, and individualistic life that we are told to pursue - one that is in stark contrast to the life of the early Christians." <- AMEN!