Psalm 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
(Responsorial refrain for 9/19/2003)
If only, it was as easy to live these words, as to proclaim them…
This past weekend I spent too many hours caring for the machines in my life
(car, clothes dryer and home computer). I felt like the gremlins of
modern life were ganging up on me as I struggled to make arrangements to
get repairs scheduled for these things in my life.
I would like to believe that things in my life are of no consequence…that
I can ‘take or leave’ them. Modern conveniences are present to assist
me in my daily tasks, but my idea of being ‘poor in spirit’ is that none
of these things in life will dominate my attention and time. Unfortunately,
this was far from the truth these past days. I spent hours arranging
for the brakes to be fixed on my car, waited a few days for the repair man
to fix my dryer, and literally filled days attempting to conquer the effects
of a world-wide virus which attacked and ran amuck in my computer.
In today’s scriptures, Timothy urges us to ‘pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience and gentleness…Lay hold of eternal life.’ I’m
sure that my thoughts, attention and focus were not centered on these virtues.
Rather, I was a woman with a mission…to fix what was broken, so that I could
continue on with my life’s ‘to do’s.’ I wonder if I
am any better than those whom Timothy admonishes for ‘supposing religion
to be a means of gain?’ It is too easy to judge others who seem consumed
in their attempt to use their status or position in life (and/or in religion)
to obtain personal gain and power. However, on a day to day basis,
it is often too easy to slide into being consumed by the ‘have to do’s on
one’s list, or allowing the less important things to assume too large of
an importance. I could have simply ‘let go’ of the need to conquer
the inconveniences in my life and to take the time to enjoy the wonderful
late summer days which are gifting us in the Midwest. I did not
take time with my God to celebrate the produce from our backyard garden or
bask in the memory of a wonderful Labor Day weekend with friends and family
celebrating my daughter and son-in-law’s marriage.
The psalmist reminds us that, ‘no one can redeem oneself, or alone pay ransom
to God; too high is the price to redeem one’s life. It is necessary
to open oneself to God’s presence so as to not become consumed with the material
goods, possessions and responsibilities of the day.
I don’t believe that the beatitude’s invitation to ‘be poor in spirit’ necessarily
means to shun the things in our lives. But the real question is how
do I use those ‘things’ - the material goods, resources and time, not only
for myself, but to empower others to become more fully who they might be?
In Luke’s Gospel today, we are reminded that the women who traveled with
Jesus (Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Susanna, etc.) provided for Jesus and
those who traveled with him out of their own resources. Their
wealth and material resources were not a stumbling block in their connecting
to the God present in their midst. Rather in sharing the ‘things’ of
their life with others, they offered a means for God’s presence in Jesus
to be more fully experienced by the people.
As I unwind from an intense effort to ‘fix’ the things in my life, I invite
my God into my frustration and impatience with myself and others. I
pray for a spirit of ‘letting go’ so that I am not as dominated by what I
own, but rather attempt to live with the conveniences and inconveniences
which they bring. I am reminded of a line from Matthew’s gospel (Mt.
6:21): “For where your treasure (time/effort/focus/attention/etc.) is, there
also will your heart be.”
I pray that God will gently help me to ‘let go’ of the necessity to always
be in charge of my life (and the things in it), so that my heart can more
deeply celebrate God’s presence with/in me and with/in others.