>What will it profit us to gain the whole world and forfeit our lives? What can we give in return for life? These are questions appropriate for this contemplative and penitential season of Lent, but truly, questions important to consider every single day of the year.
In speaking to his disciples, Jesus warns against putting earthly concerns and goods over the promise of eternal life. To these followers of Jesus, earthly concerns and goods meant home and family, financial security, perhaps standing in the community, and a peaceful life. And to us, his message is no different, even with the passage of a millennium. The everyday concerns have changed, but the goals we put before us are pretty much the same.
Might the ‘whole world’ be the ‘stuff’ in our lives? We all have it. Sometimes, it replaces or masks what’s important or crucial, or we’ve bought in to the idea that it’s what we need to be successful or happy because for so many generations the “American Dream” was to be acquisitive, have the best and the biggest and in all four different colors; sometimes, we let it get out of control.
When it gets out of control, the downward spiral begins, doesn’t it? And what better time than this to rid ourselves of that which we do not need, whether it be material, physical goods, or clutter in the mind and soul. It’s time given over to reflection and prayer, when we decide, with Christ’s help, what is truly important in our lives. Once we take that first, very painful step, the rest falls into place. Get rid of the clutter in life and you just may have a sense of order and enough room for prayer and a life that can be enriched by a deeper commitment and relationship with God and one another. And who knows? Perhaps you will discover all that all the stuff, that clutter, is a barrier. It’s a wall built up to hide behind, to keep us from being what God through Christ has called us to be.
We know that being Christian isn’t always warm and cuddly. Jesus tells us exactly what he expects of us. He says that if anyone wants to follow him, they will have to expect hardship, difficult choices, and, in the disciples’ time, perhaps death. To be a disciple is to act and live selflessly, to be willing to give up as well as give. Jesus calls us to an abundant life through love and belief, not of an abundance of earthly goods that pile up and clutter, get in the way of action that proclaims the Gospel.
What can we give in return for life? Our hearts, our minds, ourselves, freely – as freely and unconditionally as we are loved by God. Give them over into the loving care of Christ Jesus. But first, we need to get rid of the clutter so that we are receptive to the Word. Then we will be ready to shoulder the cross, and go and undertake work that make our community and world a better place that models the Kingdom of Heaven and not shame us before Jesus; work that shows that we are not ashamed of him.
I’ll leave it to you to discern what it is that Christ calls you to do. I dare you to look about and see, really see, what part of the ‘whole world’ is cluttering up your life.
I can guarantee it isn’t Jesus.