Message: In Jesus we become rich in what matters to
It is good to be back home after the World Youth Day
experience. In one of the prayer vigils Pope Francis
mentioned that many enjoy soccer. This brought cheers. Then he referred to the coming World Cup. Even louder cheers. Finally he said that Jesus is a “greater prize than the World Cup!” Young people stood, raised their hands and gave a sustained cheer.
Jesus is the one great prize. That’s what we see in today’s readings. In comparison to Jesus everything in this world is vanity. Only Jesus has ultimate worth – and only in him does anything have value. Apart from him all is emptiness, vanity.
The pope encouraged young people to give themselves to Jesus, to not let fear hold them back. He told about a Brazilian Saint: Blessed Jose de Anchieta. In spite of poor health, he began evangelizing at the age of 19. His example really struck me. I was upset by some of the inconveniences – long waits, standing in rain with a queasy stomach – but then I heard about Blessed Jose. Before he even got started, he suffered a shipwreck of the coast of Brazil! He continued on, learned the peoples’ language, lived with them – and made hundreds of converts to Jesus.
Besides Blessed Jose de Anchieta I would like to tell you about another young man who gave himself totally to Jesus. His commitment will help us understand today’s second reading. His name was Eric Liddell – the young Scotsman featured in the movie, Chariots of Fire. In his late teens he joined a couple of other young men in embracing the Four Absolutes: Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, Absolute Love.
This is what St. Paul tells us, Absolute Honesty, “Stop lying to one another.” How beautiful our lives would be if we could be completely open to each other. To do that, St. Paul tells us, we need to become new people in Christ. Put to death those parts of you that are “earthly: impurity…evil desires and greed,” which as St. Paul says, “is idolatry.”
Greed is idolatry because we make gods out of our possessions. I can start to think that I am somebody because I have a nice home, the latest computer, money on my credit card. But as Jesus reminds us, those things are ultimately empty. Tonight God could demand my life. My possessions – the things I worked hard for – will not matter. They will go to someone else who might not even appreciate them.
We all know “you can’t take it with you.” But there is a paradox: What we give away, we do take with us. C.S. Lewis went further, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours…The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God.”* As Jesus tells us: instead of storing up things in this world, we need to become “rich in what matters to God.”
Your life or mine could end tonight. No suffering will last forever, nor will any pleasure. Only eternity will go on forever. Where we spend eternity depends on our relationship with Jesus, now. Only one thing matters – Am I giving myself to Jesus? Becoming a new person in him? He is the great prize, the only prize. In Jesus we become rich in what matters to God. “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.” Amen.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 4, 2013
“One of the multitude said to him, ‘Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?’ ” (Lk 12: 13-14.)
Why does the Lord, in effect, refuse this man’s request? Was the request wrong? Perhaps not.
The Lord’s purpose is take the moment to teach about the higher good of the kingdom which might be lost to those who sin by coveting the goods of this world. By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness, and death, (Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.)
Money-The Root of all Evil?
In his space trilogy, C.S. Lewis called him ‘the Bent one.” That is really an apt name for the one the Bible is calls “Satan” or the Accuser. The perverse choice he made to serve himself rather than his creator warped his nature, and ever since his delight has been twisting anything he can get his hands on.
18th Sunday: So What Really Matters?
A few years ago I tried to explain Goth to a Trappist priest. It was almost impossible. I had stopped off at the Trappist Abbey in Conyers, GA, spent some time in the Abbey Church, and then went shopping in the Abbey Store. One of the priests was helping out. I told him that I was buying little gifts for our Teens who were going to the Steubenville Youth Conference in Atlanta. He mentioned that he had spent a weekend with his niece, and that she has two teenage sons. He couldn’t understand it but they wore black all the time, including black makeup. They had razor blades hanging from their ears and all sorts of other piercings, as well as very hostile tattoos. Then he said, “I don’t know why they are so angry, and I don’t think they go to Church.” How do you explain their anger and refusal to worship or even to be open to faith to a man who lives a life totally dedicated to prayer? How do you explain their anger to a man who can only see the joy of Christ around him? It was really all beyond his imagining, and God bless him for that.
Don’t Stay ‘Locked Up ’in Your Parish or Movement, Pope Exhorts
Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus with a mission, going out from their small circles to make disciples of all nations, Pope Francis taught today during the closing Mass of World Youth Day.