Tue, August 21, 2018 - The World around Us
Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."
Then Peter said to him in reply, "We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
I am a little soul in a big world. The world towers all around me, dwarfing me. Who am I to be? What am I to do?
Life consists, in great part, of relating to the things around us in one way or the other; in ordering the world around us and, thus, taking up our place in it. The way we relate to the world around us shapes the way we are inside. A favorite method to relate to the world is to own things and thereby establish an order around us which we control. By this logic, the more we own of the world, the better we can live.
“It will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” This statement contains what is traditionally called an “evangelical counsel,” that is, an advice for life by Jesus. The counsel in question is poverty. Life consists, in great part, of relating to the things around us in one way or the other; in ordering the world around us and, thus, taking up our place in it… How does one take up a place in the world while being poor?
So much could be said in regard to Christian poverty. What stands out to me is the message that control, which stems from richness, is not necessary, moreover it is not even advisable. We desire this control not only because of its comfort but because it is the most obvious response to our task of life: coping with the world around us. And, in fact, man is called to cultivate the earth and govern over creation. Today's Gospel seems to suggest that there is a way of governing the world other than by possessing it.
The ultimate art of living consists not in owning and controlling things, but in giving them up in order to “receive a hundred times more.” The path of richness often means to establish an order in which my own will rules the world. Such a life cannot flow into the kingdom of heaven. To follow Jesus is to acknowledge His rule over the world. In his lee, I can happily be a little soul in a big world. In Him, life can cope with things in a spirit of poverty. Like Him, we will end up “sitting on thrones” and participating in His rule of glory.
To live to the fullest means to relate to the world as a poor man who receives what he needs by the grace of his benefactors -- knowing thus that all is grace, that nothing is really mine, that each moment is a gift. That way, the world is never too big, and life is never too heavy to carry on. That way, life leads us into God's arms.