Tuesday 16 August 2022 Week 20 in Ordinary Time
The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre, “The Lord says this: Being swollen with pride, you have said: I am a god; I am sitting on the throne of God, surrounded by the seas. Though you are a man and not a god, you consider yourself the equal of God. You are wiser now than Daniel; there is no sage as wise as you. By your wisdom and your intelligence, you have amassed great wealth; you have piles of gold and silver inside your treasure-houses. Such is your skill in trading, your wealth has continued to increase, and with this your heart has grown more arrogant. And so, the Lord says this: Since you consider yourself the equal of God, very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most barbarous of the nations. They will draw sword against your fine wisdom, they will defile your glory; they will throw you down into the pit and you will die a violent death surrounded by the seas. Are you still going to say: I am a god, when your murderers confront you? No, you are a man and not a god in the clutches of your murderers! You will die like the uncircumcised at the hand of foreigners. For I have spoken – it is the Lord who speaks.”’
Deuteronomy 32 It is the Lord who deals death and life.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this, they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘This is impossible; for God everything is possible.’ Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life. ‘Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’
Peter’s question is an interesting one. ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Especially as Jesus has just warned against possessiveness and accumulation working against our openness to God. However, Jesus goes on to promise that anyone who has surrendered possession or relationships will be repaid.
Do we follow Jesus, in the hope that we will be rewarded for believing in him? What do we get?
I guess the desire to get some return is built into human nature. To expect nothing in return is perhaps a little too utopian. Do we give in order to receive thanks or recognition? Do we love in order to be loved in return? It seems for human beings it is impossible for us to save ourselves from self-interest. Maybe that is why material poverty and spiritual poverty are held up as virtues. When we have nothing to gain, we have nothing to gain. Thank fully for God everything is possible.
In his mediations Jules Chevalier wrote, Ordinarily the poor are easier to convince and convert than the rich; and they have less obstacles to overcome in order to practice virtue. A word, coming from the heart, spoken with interest in them, with love and compassionate kindness, touches them and moves them. Normally they receive such a word with docility; it practically always bears fruit.
May we be guided by the same spirit as Chevalier, whose charity knew no bounds. It was well known that his charity reached to many of the poor of issoudun and beyond.
May we empty our pockets and our hearts in service of the poor.