Saturday, March 08, 2014

Leaving Everything Behind

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land.  He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.  Isaiah 58:10-11

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.  He said to him, “Follow me.”  And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.  Luke 5:27-28

Prayer for Detachment
I beg of you, my Lord,
to remove anything which separates
me from you, and you from me.
Remove anything that makes me unworthy
of your sight, your control, your reprehension;
of your speech and conversation,
of your benevolence and love.
Cast from me every evil
that stands in the way of my seeing you,
hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you;
fearing and being mindful of you;
knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;
being conscious of your presence
and, as far as may be, enjoying you.
This is what I ask for myself
and earnestly desire from you. Amen.

Ever wonder how Luke would write his Gospel today?  How could he envision our society with complete detachment from material possessions?  That does happen.  We have a tendency to think it is related to religious communities where this is the exception rather than the rule.
It also happens in nursing homes. Over the years, we go through phases of hunting for bargains and gathering material possessions.  But the longer we live, the less we realize that those offer any solace or succor or sustenance.  It might be nice to have those pictures hanging on the walls, the nice car in front of the house, or a closet filled with clothes, shoes, and dresses.  It might be nice to head to the fancy restaurant but simple meals of soup, vegetables and fish served people quite well for most of our history.
Isaiah tells us that there is a different way.  Bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, not ourselves.  And the tax collector and some local fisherman shows that complete detachment can be done.
Complete detachment can be done but it may not be easy.  But can you take it in small steps.  What is one material item you can eliminate from your possession this week?

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