If I had a million dollars...

....I would buy a villa in Italy, I'd have my own sewing room and a huge garden, I'd get a pet dog and cat and hedgehog and llama, I'd travel the world, I'd pay off all the debt of all my friends and family...but then I remember how every time I buy something that I really, really wanted and had put so much dependency on, I feel a sort of depression. I spent so much of my time as a kid thinking about and hoping for some material possession, but then when it is gained it's never quite as satisfying as hoped. Then one has to start obsessing over the next thing...but it never works; it is never is enough. The things that really fill that deep sense of longing are some completely other kind of thing...

***

 "My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts; Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come , and I fill this house with splendour, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, the gold is mine, says the lord of hosts. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts."

For some reason the daily mass readings from this past Friday really struck me. This quote was from the first reading, taken from the book of Haggai. I must admit I was not even aware of the the existence of this little biblical book. And the excerpt is kind of repetitive and plain. But still, I found it very profound.

Firstly, the constant reinforcement of the "Lord of hosts" really emphasized the sweeping Grandeur of God. He is not the king of few, but of the masses. He is not just up in the sky, rather He is everywhere, all the time. Secondly, even though the Lord is majestic his spirit is still here, right in and among us always, and so we have nothing to fear. And so, even if our "house" is poor and failing, the Lord, who is both the great king over all and the closest presence to the smallest of the small, promises to make it greater, to bring it wealth and the see it thrive. The psalm also exclaims this idea of this rich home of God: " Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain and to your dwelling "(Ps 43). The psalmist then speaks of the resulting joy and the inspiration to praise. That is a lovely thought isn't it? But what does that mean? What really blew me away is how it was realized in the the New Testament.

The acclamation reads: "The Son of Man came to serve and to give life as a ransom to all." In the Gospel itself Peter first recognizes Christ as "The Messiah of God," that is, that foretold savior. I don't think I ever paid so much attention to the Gospel acclamation before, but the one from this Sunday also continued on this theme and really jumped out at me: "Though Jesus Christ was rich, yet He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich."

I've rarely found the readings so mind blowing, but this theme of humanity's utter poverty and God paying our debt for free so that we can be rich again, was one of those startling occurrences. Interestingly, I had been struggling with prayer. I hadn't prayed for a few days and I could feel something missing. I craved it, but I never expected the gift of this much consolation.

I described this experience to my boyfriend with an unique analogy. Incidentally, around this same time I was also eating rather poorly (well at least poorly for me, who can't eat gluten and dairy and sugar or anything normal people eat). I had been eating too many grains and nuts and some sugary fruit, and my body was not happy with it. I started to crave vegetables and I knew they were healthier and more nutritious and so much more refreshing than filling my body with tasty but not-the-best comfort food. My craving for veggies was similar to my craving for God. Sorry God, for comparing you to vegetables...

...but that fact remains that those things that are true and beautiful and actually good for us are the most satisfying. God really intended us to be with Him and to live in His abundance. He loved us so much he didn't let us live in dire, dirty spiritual muck and poverty. It doesn't mean we will be millionaires or that our lives on Earth will always be comfortable and cozy. But I've come to realize that real treasure is not a tangible thing. We are not doomed to endless cycles of grasping over shallow, finite things followed by deep discouragement. There is an infinite truth that the mind and the heart and the soul can soar in, thrive in, and find ultimate happiness in. So it doesn't matter how much money or stuff we have....because there is a far better wealth awaiting us. That is a truth that will keep me going even on the most seemingly hopeless days!


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