Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Whose are you?

Today's Gospel talks about the burden riches impose upon those who want to advance in God's kingdom.

Mt 19,23-30.

"Then 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 human beings 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."

But there is an underlying question here, not about who our riches belong to, but about Whose we are. Unless we give up our own ego and self to Christ, the money and goods we offer to God are only hostages in an unfought war. Whose are you?

Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072), hermit then bishop, doctor of the Church Sermon 9,

PL 144, 549-553

"It is a great thing, in truth, to “give up everything”, but greater “to follow Christ”, for, as we learn in books, many people gave up everything but did not follow Christ. Following Christ is our task, our work, in that consists the main part of man’s salvation, but we cannot follow Christ if we do not leave behind everything which hinders us. Because “like an athlete he joyfully runs his course” (Ps 19:6) and no one can follow him laden down with a burden.

Peter said, “We have given up everything”, not only worldly goods, but also the desires of our heart. For those who remain attached, even just to their own life, have not given up everything. Moreover, it’s no good leaving everything behind except one’s self, for there is no burden heavier than our ego.

What tyrant is crueler, what master more pitiless for man than his own will? ... Consequently, we must give up our possessions and our own will, if we want to follow him who had “nowhere to rest his head” (Lk 9:58) and who came “not to do his own will but the will of the one who sent him” (Jn 6:38)."

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