This reflection was taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Mar. 30, 2014:
“Not as man sees does God see,” says the Lord to Samuel in today’s first reading. If you ask me, that sounds a lot like “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mt 16:23), which is what Jesus says to Peter when the first Pope tries to rebuke Him on His prediction of the Passion. As Christians, this is a key principle for us to keep in mind.
“If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (Jn 15:19). Men “of the world” think “as men do;” they tend to focus on outward appearances, physical benefits, and personal advantages. Why shouldn’t they? To the best of their knowledge, that’s all there is to life. Why look deeper if they don’t think there’s anything there?
The Christian, however, knows that there is something else there. But often, we still think as worldly people do–we judge the book by its cover, we kill others to save ourselves; we forget that there is more to our lives than just the time that we spend on earth, more to reality than we can see. Christ calls us to think differently; He calls us to “think as God thinks.” He wishes us to be selfless, to give of ourselves without asking anything in return; to remember the Law of the Lord, when we would so much rather sin; to defend our faith, instead of giving in to peer pressure; to build up our treasures in Heaven rather than on earth; and to love our Creator, to the point where we are willing to die to ourselves and live only for Him. “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
“What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mk 8:36). If we think as man thinks, and see the world from a worldly perspective, we are liable to do just that. This life may be great–we might be rich, feel sufficient satisfaction, and live a long, healthy life–but our true life will wither and die. For in our ecstasy of the world and its goods, we would forget God; we would love the gifts, but fail to love the Giver.
“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” (Mk 10:25). I would think that just about any Christian who was asked if they would be willing to leave their possessions–pride, money, favorite sins, belongings, friends–behind so as to go to Heaven with God would almost certainly say, “YES!” Most of us might even answer “yes” to the question of whether we would leave such possessions behind in order to do God’s will in this life. Well, then–why don’t we? Why haven’t we?
It’s one of those things that is “easier said than done.” In order to be detached from such things in the next life, we have to restrain ourselves from letting our lives revolve around them here on earth. We can’t think that we’ll go strolling into Heaven when we die, if we’re still clinging to all our possessions and transgressions. I mean, we say–and think–that we would detach ourselves from our prides and sins and wealth in an instant for God; yet, five minutes later, we’re being rude, we’re lying, we’re dishonoring our parents, we’re expressing greed and selfishness. What hypocrites we are! Our words mean nothing, if we can’t follow them up with actions. Those are like the two aspects of faith–being able to proclaim the Word of God, and being able to practice the Law of God. We can’t really try to do one, give no regard to the other, and attempt to call ourselves righteous; they’re like the two wheels of a bike–and what bicycle rolls properly if it only one of its wheels are working?
Now God does not ask us to give up everything we own and adopt a life of poverty. That sort of lifestyle might help us to better focus on Him before ourselves, but I don’t think He wishes us all to such extremes. “For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6). He actually wants something which can, at times, be harder: for us to know and seek His will.
Who wants to stick up for Christianity amongst atheists, or forgive a person who has wronged you for the seventy-seventh time? Many of us would probably feel a strong inclination not to. But we would be thinking as man thinks; we must remember that such decisions must not be made for ourselves, but for God. Because we believe in Christ, we must remember that God has more in store for us than just the seemingly-endless pleasures and conveniences of this life.
“God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good” (Gn 1:31). I fear I have been too hard on God’s world. His worldly creations are indeed good–except for the fractures put in them by man’s sins–I’m just trying to emphasize that Heaven is infinitely better.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). With no thought for herself, Our Blessed Mother gave herself over to God’s will to bear our Savior. We all ought to be such willing servants of the Lord, accepting without qualm whatever plans He has laid out for us. Especially during the season of Lent–but at all times–we should seek to break away from our worldly attachments, so that we may become ever stronger in our faith and ever closer to our God.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.”–Jesus (Mt 23:23)
by Cameron Daly