Thursday, February 24, 2011

“I am third” – First comes God, then my family, then me

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.”

Gospel text (Mk 9:41-50): Jesus said to his disciples: «If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear his name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck. If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot than with both feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out. The fire itself will preserve them. Salt is a good thing; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another».

All the readings today at the Mass are really about not putting anything else before God in our lives. That’s the true definition of sin: putting something before God in our lives. All three readings today deal with that issue. The things of this earth are not the important ones. Power here means nothing when this life is over. Nothing in this world is worth messing up the next.

In today’s gospel, Jesus simply wants to emphasize that we have to learn how to give up those things that may hurt us, even though we like them, for they can be the cause of all sin and vice. St. Gregory wrote «we should not covet those things that only meet our material and sinful needs». Jesus expects us to be radical. In another part of the Gospel, it is written: «Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it» (Mt 10:39).

On the other hand, Jesus' demand is actually a demand for love and maturity. We shall not remain without our reward. What will make our deeds meaningful must always be our love: we should know how to offer a drink of water to whomever is in need of it, but not because of any personal interest but, simply, out of love. We must discover Jesus in those more needy and poor.

We must stop procrastinating: stop telling ourselves that tomorrow works better to start going to daily Mass, or after we receive the next raise we will be able to start giving donations to charities. True, good intentions are a start. But to the homeless man in the street, the single mom in need of a friend, the man who just lost his wife to cancer, or even our own relationship with God, our good intentions are meaningless; each day we soothe ourselves with our good intentions is simply another day of neglect.

So, today, let us take the step. Let us write the check, make the call, or whatever action we need to take in order to finally make our good intentions a reality. Will these actions be convenient? Of course not. But we are not called to live a life of ease; we are called to live a life for God.

Who knows if I will ever make it to my “whens.” I don’t know how long I have left on this earth, or what God’s plan is for my life. Of one thing, though, I am certain: I must stop letting my “whens” get in the way of my “now.”

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