Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg

Only the man who has faith and is inspired by charity can rise above the miseries, the meannesses, and the malice of this world; instead, the man who lets himself be overcome by the spirit of illicit gain, of overweening hatred, and of impurity, is doomed to suffer, first here below, because he can never be entirely satisfied, and later in the other world. - Pope John XXIII, Daily Papal Messages

Gospel text (Lk 21,5-11):
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, "All that you see here?
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

Then they asked him,
"Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"
He answered,
"See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
"I am he," and "The time has come."
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end."
Then he said to them,
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky."

It seems easy for us to believe that we have control over these things. We go on our merry way thinking that we will be here forever -- we accumulate possessions as though we are going to take them with us. I still occasionally see the bumper sticker that says, 'He who dies with the most toys wins.' What exactly does he win? Eternal life? Happiness? Our precious lives are short and we need to live them in Faith and to reject the pressures that amassing things is a way to win.

Today’s gospel addresses the fragility and finiteness of our earthly structures both literally and figuratively. We can build and build, making bigger and taller structures yet none will be permanent, and all will eventually fall. This finite nature is not limited to physical structures, nations, societies; political realms are all just as fragile. There is only one eternal aspect of life -- our Faith. Life on this earth will challenge us in a variety of ways and will pass, but it is our Faith that will sustain us and save us. Everything, except the love of God, is transient.

How can we live fearlessly, die fearlessly, and even face the end of the world fearlessly? We conquer fear by love. "Love has no room for fear" (1 Jn 4:18). "Perfect love" is not necessarily sinlessness but complete commitment. If we love the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength (Lk 10:27), we will be so filled with love that our love will crowd out all fears.

Lesson of the day: Give it up. We should not give up in our endeavors, but give our stresses up to the Lord. Pray. Trust. Ask for peace and guidance. If we always do this, then we should have nothing to fear.

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