To have read the Gospel of Jesus and to ask: How can I live the life Jesus taught in the modern world?
It is a question asked by cowards.
It is a question asked by me.
The first problem is the “I”. Is not this the essence of the question? Here is another question: How can all God’s creatures live happy in this world in spite of what “I” need or think I need or I just plain want? It is a world dominated by establishing one’s own place and then wondering what “I” can do, what I am willing to sacrifice, what I can do without. As one debates these weighty issues in one’s heart, people starve, animals disappear, and the environment becomes poison. Smiling selfies on social media pages testify to the ever more self-centric society in which one lives. Even one’s protests for positive reform are reduced to a means of self-expression on some social media platform. I. Me. Mine. Even “truth” has become subjective. Truth is now synonymous with what I think, my opinion, what I feel the most prudent means to my self expression even if it is contrary to nature, reason, common sense, or even the common good. I am a master of destiny. I proclaim: Freedom is doing what I want so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, but should it hurt another, what is that to me? Sounds like a personal problem. Why should, say, people starving in Yemen limit my freedom to invest in Saudi Arabian arms deal? The desire of those people to exist should not limit my freedom.
I say this because last night on the news feed, as I ate myself to near illness, I was once again convicted by the state of being of the children of Yemen, for that matter the adults of Yemen as they struggle to keep alive amidst the geopolitical designs of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the economic interests of the United States and Wall Street investors. The children wither and I sit broken hearted. I do not invest in any stocks, but I buy things, drive a car, and fail to put up any meaningful resistance to this demonic exploitation of people. I am complicit by what I have failed to do.
The First Step to Change is to move from I to We
We must change our mindset. We must think of everyone in the world as “We.” We are starving in Yemen because wealth and power desire more. We are sinking in the Mediterranean Sea. We are fleeing poverty and violence in Africa. We are suffering at the Southern U.S. and our children are dying of dehydration in the desert. Or are we to continue to say: They are not my kids. Sounds like a personal problem.
Jesus says otherwise. In fact, Jesus goes beyond “We” and said: Whatever you have done to the least of these you have done to me. For Jesus became the other. Jesus turned the “We” to “I”, but not in the personal sense. Jesus became one with the other and there was nothing He did not share with all. He shared all He had. His tunic. His food, His Father. His Mother. His life. His death.
And He shared in what we have. Our sins. Our suffering. Our needs. Our wants. Our lives. Our deaths.
Can we learn anything from this approach to life? Do we always seek higher ground, secure ground before we stoop to help others? How many are trampled in the wild rush for the door before we turn around and lift up the fallen? Here is where we can ask a soldier what he would do if a comrade, in the thick of battle, fell wounded on the field. Would the fallen be left behind? Would the fallen’s compatriots say: Too bad for him. Sounds like a personal problem. Methinks not!
Now I ask you: How can we as Human Beings, as Catholics, as God’s children look at any of our brothers or sisters and casually turn away concerned only with increasing our own personal comfort? What do I do? I sound off on a sad blog that no one reads and pretend I am doing something.
My patron saint is Francis of Assisi. God is my Father. Jesus is my Brother. Blessed Virgin Mary is my Queen and Mother. Can I have failed each of these familial obligations any more? If Jesus is my Brother, and He is each and every one of the least of these, I have elected to let my Brother starve. What is more, assuming I am not “all that” and that I, too, might be among the “least of these”, then Jesus being me, I have failed Jesus and me. What I am saying decidedly unclearly and will now say less clearly is this: We must turn our individual “I” to “We” and then turn this “We” to “Me” and in this “Me” where two or more are gathered, Christ is present. And to rather cheekily borrow from John Lennon, If I am He as you are He and you are me and we are all together, then let us behave thus, yes? If this makes sense to you, explain it to me.
Sell All You Have Give It to the Poor and You Will Have Treasure in Heaven, Then Come Follow Me
Rather interesting order, do you not think? Jesus does not first ask the rich young man to come follow Him knowing that in following Him the rich young man’s heart will change. Jesus says first: Change your heart; change who you are; change what you are doing; Give up your attachments, AND THEN, after this is accomplished, one is ready to follow Him. Does it not stand to reason, those who have not done these things can not be following Him regardless of whether they have accepted Jesus into their hearts, know Him to be their personal saviour, genuflect at church, or (and I know this will infuriate some) even partake of His precious Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. If we have not shun the treasures of this world thus having entered into His Mystical Body, we do not follow Him; we do not know Him; and when we stand outside His door, we may very well find Him saying to us: Depart from me. I never knew you. Quite honestly, I find this thought terrifying.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners. Pray for our conversion, Lord, so that all souls may go to Heaven.
May Almighty God bless you; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
(C) Copyright 1 January 2019