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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The simple point of today's readings

If you're like me, you look for a thread through the readings of the day. This morning, I lectored, and as I went to sit down, it was one of those time where I really didn't want to. I wanted to stand up there and proclaim the Gospel, as well, because there was so much rich fodder for exegesis. I could have preached for an hour on today's texts: Zep 2:3 & 3:12-13; Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10; and 1 Cor 1:26-31.

Since I couldn't then, let me give a little synopsis of what I took from the readings (because, of course, just everyone is interested in what lil' ol' moi has to say, right?). I know it can come off as hubris and pride, but each of us will have a different take on the text, and maybe mine is not what you heard.

The thread I saw through all the readings, including the Gospel, was this: We are not made for this world. We should, therefore, not put our stock in that which moth and rust will destroy.

We are to not only be humble and lowly, but we should expect that others will treat us this way. Through us, however, the "remnant" (an ever shrinking remnant, it would seem), God will use those called foolish "to shame the wise" and "the weak of the world to shame the strong" and "the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God."

What will we boast in? Our possessions? Heaven forbid, for if we do this, we loose a blessing, a blessing of happiness. How so? Because "blessed are the poor in spirit." Notice this does not say, "Blessed are the poor." Neither Christ nor the Church revels in poverty, extreme or otherwise. Poverty is not in and of itself a good by itself. It is only a good when it is accompanied by a loving reliance on God's providence. If it is a poverty that is bitter and relentlessly remorseful, then it is a poverty that profits us nothing.

Similarly, being rich is not ipso facto a one-way ticket to hell. It can be. However, if our wealth is pervaded by a sense of our helplessness before God and a proper fear of God, and we use the bounty He has provided to build up His kingdom on earth through ceaseless service of our fellow man, then it can be our way to exemplify "faith working through love." Thus, it can cover a multitude of sins and help us gain heaven, "for the kingdom of heaven is theirs."

Whether rich or poor, though, if our greatest possession is the kingdom of God, then we have everything and lack for nothing. This is what we should boast in, for "whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord." For it is the Lord Who "keeps faith forever," not our yachts or ATVs. It is the Lord Who "secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry ... [and] sets captives free." He "gives sight to the blind," "raises up those who were bowed down" "loves the just," and "protects strangers." He "sustains" the "fatherless and the widow ... but the way of the wicked He thwarts. The Lord shall reign forever ... through all generations." What or who on earth can do all of that? Our God is an awesome God. Alleluia! He is the one in Whom we should boast. Everything else is so much dust.

Be poor in spirit. Be detached from this world. If you have wealth, rejoice in the Lord, boast in the Lord. If you have poverty, trust in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, boast in the Lord. Again, everything else is so much dust. In our hyper materialistic and consumeristic age, this is hard for each and everyone of us, granted. But it is often only that which is difficult that is worth doing. So pray for detachment, pray for humility, pray for a spirit that boasts only in the Lord. Then you will be happy, blessed, in beatitude.

God bless you.

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