Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016
in Ordinary Time
Psalm 90:3-6, 12-17
Philemon 9-10, 12-17
In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that we can’t be his disciples, genuinely imparting his message and spirit, unless we are detached from our possessions.
OK, we think, we can eschew materialism and strive not to be influenced by the endemic consumerism of popular culture. We can share what we have with others. Yes, we can do that and so become effective disciples.
But what about the "possessions" that we think of as our daily bread: job, income, home -- the things that provide our basic security? Becoming separated from those things can make it hard to listen and attend to God's Spirit.
I saw it happen to a close friend of mine, a professional, when circumstances created a serious, unexpected reduction in his income. Approaching the end of his career, he saw his savings depleted and retirement plans dashed.
Suddenly, he felt that everything he'd worked for was lost, and he was overwhelmed by fears about his future.
Most of us have experienced a situation in which an unexpected crisis hits and lays us low.
Often it can be so defeating that we can't feel God’s presence or hear the gentle guidance of Jesus within us.
Today's reading from the Book of Wisdom describes the difficulty. "The corruptible body burdens the soul," Wisdom says, explaining, "The earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns."
It's not so much that we are materialistic but that our concerns about even basic material matters hinder us from looking into our souls for answers from God. Jesus wants us to let go of those matters that weigh down our ability to follow him.
My friend eventually let go of his fears, accepting the fact of financial insecurity, and trusted God to carry him forward. Wisdom notes, "The deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans."
Jesus calls us to carry our cross, not our stuff. He asks us to carry our uncertainty and insecurity and trustingly follow him. That's the cross he can help us carry.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.