I found myself reading, reflecting and then re-reading the scriptures today. When I read the line: “They praised their gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone,” I began to reflect on our society’s obsession with possessions. We live in a society that goes to extremes to maintain physical beauty, amass wealth and materialistic “stuff”. This need to possess and hang on to the physical can lead many of us into forgetting about our eternal life with God. We are given a short time on earth, to live as Jesus taught us in order to be given the opportunity to have eternal life with God.
Often, after a shocking experience we, as people, seem to come back to what really matters. The first reading, which states, “ When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched; his thoughts terrified him, his hips shook, and his knees knocked.” I think this is how many of us feel and respond when we lose our way and then, as tragedy or startling events occur, we are shocked back to reality as to what really matters and what matters is never “the stuff”.
One of the best ways for me to be mindful of keeping my focus on how I have been called to live my life is to have people in my life who are filled with faith, who work to see God in all things and who are wise. I look for the spirit of God in people and in situations looking for “brilliant knowledge and extraordinary wisdom”. A recent special issue of U.S. News and World Report, October 31st highlighted exceptional leaders. I was most impressed with the good that Melinda and Bill Gates have done, in sharing their gifts to help with the enormous healthcare needs of people who are suffering from diseases that have a cure, can be treated and even prevented. These two people have truly accepted the gifts given to them, enriched these gifts and are now able to give “presents to someone else”. While I’m sure that the Gateses have some human flaws (as we all do) for me, they are wonderful role models.
The first reading ends with a reminder for me that, the talents, skills and abilities given to me by God can be taken away if I do not nurture these gifts, rejoice in these gifts and delightfully share these gifts with others. Our abilities to share with and to be with others fills me up with satisfaction and joy and alleviates my “wanting”.
After 52 years I think I have learned one of the lessons in today’s Gospel when Luke says, “You are not to prepare your defense beforehand.” That line, for me, reminds me to put my trust in God, to wait patiently, to reflect, to give my concerns, my need to make a decision and my anxieties over to God. I recently shared, with a group of students, a brief thought that had been sent to me via email that said, “If God has brought you to it; God will bring you through it.” I pray that I will be blessed with perseverance and will be able to navigate through the celebrations and the storms to eventually experience eternal life with our Lord.
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