|Stained Glass Window at St. Peter's|
God’s Word also invites us to pray anew for the seven energies of the Spirit in us:
Wisdom to focus on what truly matters, especially our relationship with God and one another;
Understanding and Knowledge, to enter deeply into the mysteries of God and the truths of our faith;
Counsel to make good moral decisions;
Fortitude or strength of character to stand up for what is right;
Piety to give God, our creator, praise and worship; and finally
Fear of the Lord, or the healthy concern never to lose our friendship with God.
Sometimes people become so absorbed in earthly things that they forget their ultimate purpose: to be in relationship with God in our earthly life, and beyond in a heavenly life. The Letter of James challenges us to spend our energies, not on transitory treasures like money and power, but on lasting treasures like our relationships with God and one another.
A medieval play called “Everyman” captures this theme powerfully. God asks death to tell “everyman” (symbolizing us) that everyman’s life on earth is over. Everyman then asks his “friends” wealth, fame and power to accompany him, but they refuse. In the end, everyman gets only one friend to join him: Good Works. The point is simple: When death comes for us, only the good we have done will accompany us into the mystery of death.
Today we might imagine Jesus saying to someone: If your wealth should keep you from pursuing the things of God, sell some of your stocks and bonds and give the proceeds to the poor. Better to enter heaven without much than be condemned to “Gehenna” (a garbage dump outside Jerusalem) leaving behind a substantial estate for others to argue over.
Or we might imagine Jesus saying: if job security leads you to compromise your ethics and integrity, quit.
Jesus dramatically calls us to realize that discipleship means not letting anything – anything! – distract us in our quest for the things of God; not allowing the pursuit of wealth, security, or status to detach us from the love of God or the love we have for our families and loved ones.
Yes, we have to have the courage of faith to “let go” of whatever cuts us off from God and family and loved ones.
Throughout history, people have written to us, taught us, about “seizing the day.”
Mark Twain wrote: “Years from now we will be more disappointed by the things we didn’t do than by the ones we did.” A compelling message: don’t live a life of regrets. Do good now. Quietly sit down somewhere and write your own obituary. What do you want to be remembered for?