SEVENTH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME 2019
We as humans have a great attachment to things. The world seems to pivot around the things we own. For example, what would be our response if a person asked for our cell phone, our watch, and our car keys and said I can’t promise that you will get them back? Obviously, most of us would agree that the typical response would be no when asked to give up something that is important to us.
Could we live without these items? Yes, as with most things we own, we would survive. True, their absence would disrupt our life, and it may be much more challenging to make it to an appointment on time, to communicate or commute. However, we habitually mold our lives around our possessions. Even from an early age, recognize the importance of possessions as we hear a toddler screaming ‘Mine, Mine!’ when another attempts to take a toy from her. As we get older, we don’t necessarily use those same words as the toddler, but the meaning remains the same when we say,‘What is mine is mine.’
What is it that we possess that we are not willing to give up in service to the Lord? Let us consider whether the physical things we identify as having the most value for us, should be the things we are most willing to share with others or even give away. Jesus reminds us today whatever we claim as our own is not really ours. For the Lord God has provided everything for us, even our very existence. Therefore what we have, what we can do are only on loan from the Lord. He will one day take it all back. Will we be ready to give those things up for a share in a perfect existence in his heavenly kingdom?
Even though we are sinners, each of us possesses an innate ability to do good. We often without thought or resentment accomplish virtuous deeds for family or friends. Could we offer the same graciousness to someone we dislike, or we may think of as an enemy? Although we have the capacity to do good works, sometimes we allow judgment and the desire for revenge blind us from doing the right thing. How willing would we be to be in service for another if we have these thoughts?
That person has never talked to me, and he sees me every day, why should I be the one who initiates the conversion. This person often says hateful things about me behind my back; I have no reason to offer my sympathy because of her father’s death. That person isn’t a Christian; he doesn’t deserve my assistance.
Jesus challenges us to learn to love, even our enemies. We far too easily fall into punishing through revenge because we dislike something said or done to us. However, when we make judgments and fail to respond to another in need, we do not allow God to do his work through us. It is only God, in his infinite wisdom, who can judge fairly.
Jesus knows that for us it is more difficult to act on another’s behalf when there is no recompense. He expects us to go beyond our comfort zone. If our faith is strong, we can be confident to stand up for the plight of the needy, the lost, and the forsaken. We can recognize when others are in need and can respond with a caring heart if we are open to allow grace to flow into our being. Jesus tells us, if we are people of faith, meeting the needs of others is an ongoing practice, and we must not be satisfied reaching some quota.
If we believe that the power of the Lord is present within us, then we can act with spiritual abandon. If we believe in salvation, our faith will never waver even to the point of giving up our most prized possession, our lives, for what we believe. Jesus has shown us the way through his death on the cross. Have faith, for if you give away everything, one day you will possess everything in the Kingdom.
“And he said to them, Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed: for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
Deacon Dan Gilbert