Yesterday I heard Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio interviewing EWTN's Raymond Arroyo about a controversial new book/ movie/ publicity event entitled "The Secret." It purports to share the secret key to understanding the universe, AKA "the law of attraction." From what these gentlemen were talking about, it seems that the message is mixture of thought control, new age jargon and just plain huckster-ish "Prosperity Gospel."
The idea is this: concentrate and imagine what you want and need and it will come to you. This is the great secret of the universe, that your positive thoughts generate positive activity which will result in good things coming to you.
Not since the Celestine Prophecy back in the 1980's has so little tried to masquerade as so much. I have watched more or less patiently these past few years as purpose-driven, Da Vinci Code crazed searchers after Jesus' tomb have all paraded by. Each and all has attracted his or her own fifteen minutes of fame in the media spotlight.
So, I suppose this too shall pass.
However, reading today's gospel account I was struck again by how opposite Jesus' gospel is to this entire line of thought.
Instead of good thoughts and feelings, Jesus offers us a cross.
Instead of external fulfillment based on prosperity, Christ offers eternal happiness and meaning through acceptance of service and suffering.
Instead of the ability to feel good about ourselves, our Lord God gives us the power to do good for others.
"The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell themwhat was going to happen to him.“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to deathand hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him,spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,but after three days he will rise.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?”They answered him,“Grant that in your glorywe may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.Can you drink the chalice that I drinkor be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”They said to him, ‘We can.”Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink,and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to givebut is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them,and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The disciples didn't "get it."
I'm not sure we do either.
And yet our Lord Jesus Christ still beckons whosoever will to come and follow the difficult way.
That's the REALLY BIG secret to a fulfilling life, and life hereafter.