The Economics of Christ….
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 When Jesus noticed the crowd around him, he ordered his disciples to go to the other side of the lake. 19 A teacher of the Law came to him. “Teacher,” he said, “I am ready to go with you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lie down and rest.” 21 Another man, who was a disciple, said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.” 22 “Follow me,” Jesus answered, “and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (TEV)
25 “This is why I tell you: do not be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive, or about clothes for your body. After all, isn’t life worth more than food? And isn’t the body worth more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? 27 Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? 28 “And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. 29 But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. 30 It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have! 31 “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32 (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings. Matthew 6:25-34 (TEV)
523 Do not fix your heart on anything that passes away. Imitate Christ, who became poor for us, and had nowhere to lay his head. Ask him to give you, in the midst of the world, a real detachment, a detachment that has nothing to soften it.
524 One clear sign of detachment is genuinely not to consider anything as one’s own.
525 Whoever really lives his faith knows that the goods of the world are means, and uses them generously, heroically.
Recently, I’ve seen a number of articles where the Pope has come under fire from American protestants, not because of things like the Doctrine of Justification, or the issues about purgatory, or the Rosary or anything else, but because of economics. Some of his comments have attacked one of the idols of this age, greed and the pursuit of money. I’ve seen all sorts of labels applied to him, some of which are less than accurate if you knew how he preached in Argentina and worked against the opposite extreme of liberation theology. Maybe he is preaching against real first-world sin?
While many focus on the “Law” aspects of this message, that there should be regulation and laws which protect those who would be outcast if greed is given a free hand, I think that Pope Francis might be seeing a gospel nature to confronting greed, to encouragin charity and caring for one’s community,even if it includes the poor,…or the rich. We hear such things, that are counter to our society, and we are caught. We see the call to live sacrificailly, to helping those who have less as against the ideals that were instilled in us, to live the American Dream, to work hard, to save and prepare for the future, to care for those who are less. Because we think our core values are attacked, we struggle, for we hear these things challenging us as Law. ( I would contend that the proestant work ethic was more about charity than not, but it seems to have been redefined) We hear his words condeming us, and so we rise to defend ourselves.
Except they are not, if they are part of the gospel.
The Gospel that talks of our being freed from idolatry, as we are united with Christ, as we walk with Him. As we put things into an eternal perspective and we don’t cling to that which can be destroyed, When we realize that freed from such economic idols, we can show love to those who are our neighbors, without evaluating the economic impact on us and our family. The gospel that exchanges false gods for a God who comes to us, setting aside His riches, because of the love He has for us, who were not part of His family, but now are.
Such a detachment isn’t easy, we like being comfortable, we enjoy our flat screens and cars, we like seeing the work of hands rewarded with accomplishments and being assured that everything will be there. But now we are going back to valuing an idol more than a real God. It’s hard for me, even as I write this, to not hear it speaking to me. To find oneself detached from things, and freer to love and to care and to serve. Able to use the resources God gives us, for that which would being Him glory, as we live like Christ. It doesn’t change our work ethic, in fact, knowing we can help others may drive us to work harder, sacrificing more as we see the eternal rewards of people coming to know God’s love. It is a higher calling a higher purpose, a reason to invest ourselves in, this detactchment that frees us from idols, and helps us imitate Christ as we find ourselves putting others before ourselves.
It’s a radical thought,… to begin this year. To trust in God more than the work of our hands and minds. Maybe though, this isn’t about judging us as it is encouraging us to walk with Jesus?
How would our lives change, if we did? Would they have more meaning or less? Would we have less anxiety?
Lord have mercy on us, and deliver us from temptation and idolatry.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1983-1989). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.