May 19, 2016
My brothers and sisters, greetings—
Fear not when a man grows rich,
hen the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down. (Psalm 49:16-17)
While the first image that comes to mind for me here is one of the earth opening up to swallow the rich man, he stripped even the clothes on his back—a warning to the blinding, damning power of disordered wealth—what I hear more so is the never-ending call to our detachment: to a positive going deeper into the eternal Jesus, which pulls us away from the wrapping-of-our-hands around objects of the passing world.
To have, in some sense, nothing to leave behind; to have only One toward whom we rush toward.
What does that mean, for you and for me, most especially for those of us whom God has placed as lanterns of his love in the world?
It means prayer. It means prayer every day—for the great mystery of prayer is this: A person takes himself, everything that he is, his mind, his will, his heart, and he opens it up to the quiet work of the Holy Spirit, work that he cannot feel, work that he cannot penetrate and cannot trace, in the exact same way that he doesn't feel or doesn't trace the way in which the world also lays its fingers on him, addicts him, and draws him in one direction versus another.
The secret also lies in this, I think: We know by experience that, no matter what activity of the world in which we engage, it keeps us on a plane entirely static—it doesn't change, or just breaks inward, that with which we began: The I who begins an addiction to the world is either the same or less so that I who finishes.
The one who lets God show him finds in prayer this: Prayer, and really in it grace, as with the Sacraments, creates us. The I who begins prayer is never the same I who finishes; the I who begins prayer is drawn ever-deeper into an imitation of Jesus, and so the greatest movement, the greatest adventure, the greatest unfolding of the story of a life begins when it is lived with Jesus in prayer—the I is so much more alive, so much more himself, than the I who began. Even in suffering, even in trial, even in darkness and a never-ending recycling of monotony...Jesus lives, Jesus breathes, Jesus frees, and Jesus fills.
Jesus, also, lifts and makes lighter—so that, rather than being followed down by wealth or other snares of the world, we are lifted high in the freedom of grace.