Monday, October 12, 2009

The Rich Young Man? The Poor Old Woman?

Of the the two, I can identify with each. I am a woman, I am fortunate or "rich" by most the world's standards, unfortunate or "poor" in some areas for sure, and I am 63- getting closer to an old woman every day. Yeah, yeah, I know that 60 is the new 40..but sometimes, most often, appearances are just that, appearances. 63 years knocking around on the planet is 63 years is still 63 years knocking around on the planet...from the inside out. The good news, sometimes our vision improves with years..regardless of what the mirror or the media might  Let's focus in on what the readings for yesterday say.about age and the goodies.

Yesterday's reading was a very puzzling gospel reading to me.  I heard an a homily that explained it in an palatable way.

I am still chewing on it. Jesus was giving the rich young man an opportunity to have eternal life as a young man. He recommended that he give to the poor all he had, all that was distracting him from utter dependence on God. He also mentioned not just giving to the poor but living among them so it would open his eyes to what is real and important. As we get older, life deals us necessary losses and enough grief that we slowly but surely have the opportunity to see more clearly how needy we are, but often, the young and fortunate, at this young man was, do not recognize that they are not as self-sufficient as they think, and will soon enough need to become aware of how much depends on God. The old, the sick, and the poor have a daily experience of this dependency.

The quote from Psalms that reads. Lord, teach me to number my days, so that I might have wisdom of heart comes to mind. I have bookmarked this quote for the last 30 years, and it becomes more relevant every year. So this scripture, reminds yesterday's homilist, was more about choices: investing in wisdom and riches of God or in the wisdom or riches of the world.. And again, the beginning of wisdom is fear (awesome respect)of the Lord from Proverbs. He also made the point that we must ask for wisdom so that we can want utter dependence on God. What we pray for shows where our investment is…in this life or in the Eternal Life that the young man really longed for...don’t you think?  I am checking most my prayers twice from now on.

For me, any way I look at it, I need to pray for wise trust: trust is the present challenge for me. Sometimes I feel like if I drop the ball, no one is going to catch it..or even notice it has fallen. I must remind myself that God has skills.. He has been allowing it to drop and helps to catch it so many times in the past, even as I fear the worst. I could use your prayers here..please.

I think that Jesus was telling the rich young man that he deserved even better than what he had gained by following all the rules and being such a good boy all his young life.  Today he was being offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to give it all up for journey to the top rung, unity with God, which is what eternal life means. Jacob in the Old Testament lost the battle with the Angel of the Lord as he wrestled with him up the ladder. He lost a part of his body but gained Heaven when He gave finally up all resistance, and let God win. This New Testament rich young man was another Jacob, much milder mannered it seems,  one who had followed God to this point and was asking for more, but now the price seemed higher, the reward definitely greater. He was being called to early sainthood, like St. Francis, who took the call.

I sometimes  feel kind of depressed like I am the guy as he walked away. He was not going to be condemned for his refusal or delay, but he missed the first opportunity..and who knows when the next one would come and at what cost. We only live once. Knock..KNOCK…KNOCK!!!!!!

Jesus does not mince words or get sentimental much because it is not his business to give energy to what is of no importance in the end.. (We know whose business that is, to know more read CS Lewis, TheScrewtape Letters) Our brother Christ has all the time to wait for us at Heaven’s unlocked gate for He has done His time on earth and even hell, in order to keep eternity’s door open for us. His urgency, as the rich young man sensed and was saddened by, is for us because our time for this opportunity, is limited by number of our days on earth.  I once heard that our soul's enemy's most powerful advice to novice demons is to whisper in human's ear, "Even if it may be true, what's the hurry?"

St Augustine, of all saints, once said that if you want to fly to Heaven, fast and give alms. Jesus may have been saying this to the young man, offering him wings!

Reality check: if I cannot give up unhealthy foods, fasting…just from junk food and over-eating, and what I don’t even need, purging my closet and each room in my home for unnecessary items to which I am sickly attached, then I am as duped as any rich, young man by the prince of this world.   What is my hurry???
I know that for some of you, this is so nothing to give up to get closer to Him, but for me, it is ok for now..if I can even do it..because, inspite of some lofty ideas, I am still only able to digest Pablum..babyfood on some days.  I wish you more.

The Poor Young Woman

How did she not fret at such a start?
When an angel suddenlly appeared, proclaiming
Whose mother she'd be, body, soul, and heart.

How did she know to choose what's best?
Within her soul did strength, wisdom, and courage 
Convene there as faithful guests.

How was she able to count the cost?
To know that all Heaven was at stake
And what could be forever lost

When did she teach her soul to sing so dearly?
Sacred words ringing out
Forever, clearly.

Still just a child, only fifteen
With ordinary dreams of family and spouse
She said ok, she's be His  mother and our queen 

With neither bargaining nor fuss
The poor young woman, now rich with love
Simply said yes, and gave her body in purest trust.

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