About Trivial Pursuits
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
by Fr. David M. Knight
Luke 6: 39-45; Sirach 27: 4-7; 1Corinthians 15: 54-58
The blind can't guide the blind. We cannot reform others without reforming ourselves. In order to do good we have to become good. Everything we do depends on what we are in our hearts. "For it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."
What Jesus does in this Gospel is invite us to look into our hearts and to cooperate with him in making our hearts like his; that is, to make what we are interiorly match what he is in his own mind and will and heart.
And why does he do this? It is so that our lives will count for something, will "bear fruit" on this earth. It is so that when we die the world will be different for our having lived.
Everything changed with Jesus' coming. The real power is not with the powerful any more; nor the real productivity with the most productive. We don't have to be brilliant or talented or strategically placed in order to change history or have influence on the world. In fact, those who think they are changing the world are probably having the least effect of all. For example, throughout history and to this day rulers and nations have spent enormous energy on wars to rearrange national boundaries. And we spent hours in history class learning about it! But changing frontiers and governments has about as much effect on real human history as changing the lines on notebook paper while someone else is doing the writing. The real action, the action that counts, and the actions which make people different forever take place within the human heart. The only changes that endure are the ones that take place in the heart. Everything else is ultimately trivial.
The problem with the news media is that the news they report is not really significant, but by focusing on it they make us think it is. Ten people praying can affect history more than an army invading a country. One man surrendering his whole heart to God while dying in a hospital is more important in the real history of humanity than the victory of a presidential candidate. A hundred years from now none of us now living will care who was president during this decade or see any advantage to ourselves in anything he did. We will be grateful in heaven to many people, but only for the love they gave us and for the ways they helped us to know and love God. Nothing else anyone does for us will matter then, because we will see how totally insignificant it was in terms of lasting effect.
The truth is, we can love God and other people with our whole hearts whether the government makes us rich or poor, whether the environment keeps us healthy or makes us sick, whether the military protects us or lets us be invaded, whether our houses are broken into or not, and whether we are murdered on the street or live to be a hundred. What is really important for us, what is making the only history that counts, and what we really should be following as news, is what is happening that will help us know God, love God and people, and contribute to establishing the reign of God on earth. His is the only reign, the only kingdom that lasts, and what contributes to its establishment is the only history the human race really has.
So who are our guides? To whom do we listen? To those who think that what is reported in the news really matters? Or to those whose whole focus is on the Good News that began with Jesus Christ? Where do we get if we follow guides who are so blind they can't see one step beyond the grave? Or, to say the same thing, beyond the economic and political concerns of the country? (How much time would Jesus waste worrying about the stock market?)
Why do we bother to criticize, much less to hate, politicians (or anyone) who can only affect our physical well-being? Jesus says, "Check out your own value system first. Then decide if you have anything to be concerned about."
Prayer: Lord, when you came into the world you became the mainspring of human history. Join me to yourself in mind and heart, that I might continue your work on earth.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry