Thursday, August 11, 2005

MH - What's In It For Us?

Today, Fr. Tiffany's homily dealt with the recent sections we've been reading in Matthew. Jesus repeatedly talks of what is necessary to enter the kingdom of Heaven, and sometimes it seems an impossible task. Finally, Peter can take it no longer, and he is moved to ask Jesus the question that appears in the title of this post. Jesus, he seems to be saying, we’ve given up everything for you. We’ve spent the last few months following you. Now, what’s the payoff?

Well, Fr. Tiffany said, in a sense the answer is “nothing.” Because outside of Jesus and our relationship, that’s about what the rest of it is worth. Our possessions, our hobbies, our activities - in the long run, what are they worth to us? How do they help us get closer to the Kingdom of Heaven? In fact, in terms of the time we spend in pursuit of life’s pleasures, they often take us father away from our goal. Our lives are so busy, we often wind up cramming Jesus into the cracks, fitting Him in where we can, instead of making Him our primary goal.

Think of it this way, Fr. Tiffany said. You’re having an intense conversation with someone. You’re concentrating, looking into their eyes as you make your point, and you notice that their eyes keep darting around, looking at whatever happens to be going on behind you. What they’re really telling you is that, “Yes, I’m listening to you, and I’m kind of concentrating on what you have to say, but what I’m really doing is looking for someone more interesting, maybe someone more attractive than you are, somebody that really captures my attention. In other words, I’m talking to you, but I’d rather be talking to them.”

And isn’t that the way it is with our relationship with Christ? We’re all guilty of it at one time or another, some of us more often than others. Lord knows, I am. We may be listening to Him during Mass, but we’re really thinking about the game later this afternoon, or what we’re going to eat when we get out. We can hardly wait for the priest to leave the sanctuary before we make a beeline for something else.

Or perhaps we’re constantly on the run; running errands, running the kids to and from their events, running to work. Lord, we say, I’d really like to spend more time with you, but you see, there’s just so much else I have to do. I promise when things calm down, when I’m not so busy, I’ll sit down and spend the time. Really, I will.

He smiles, just as He does with impatient, impulsive Peter every time he makes one of his dramatic statements. He smiles, our dear, patient, suffering Lord. He continues to hold His arm out, He continues to offer His hand to us, to lead us to what He has to offer us. What’s in it for us, which is what we’ve been saying we wanted all along. But we keep looking for it in the wrong places, and we’re in so much of a hurry to find it we keep walking right past Him, never seeing the forest for the trees.

Still, He smiles, and He keeps whispering to us. And when we can find the time to turn down the volume, to stop the white noise that is the bustle of our everyday lives, to stop talking all the time and actually listen, we might hear what He has to say.

That’s what’s in it for us, Fr. Tiffany concluded. Jesus.

He couldn’t have put it any better.

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