Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Tuesday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Readings: Ezekiel 28:1-10; Deuteronomy 32:26-27ab, 27cd-28, 30, 35cd-36ab; Matthew 19:23-30
Picture: CC ~twon~
At the gym the other day, I noticed a new article on the wall. It’s aim was to debunk some common health and fitness myths. One of these myths is the belief that all thin people are fit and healthy, with low body-fat, and so do not need to exercise. On the contrary, the article noted that thin people could still carry hidden fat deposits in their bodies that may adversely affect their health. One can be slim and shapely, for example, and still have cholesterol clogged arteries. And we know how dangerous that can be. Clogged arteries prevent life-giving, oxygen-carrying, blood from passing through them, leading to potentially fatal conditions such as strokes and heart attacks. Thinness doesn’t necessarily imply health. The bottom line is that we all need to exercise.
The image of clogged arteries presents a useful corollary to Jesus’ well-known parable in today’s gospel: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. On the one hand, a rich person may too easily be tempted to cling stubbornly to his/her material possessions, and as a result, not be slim enough to pass through the tiny aperture that leads into the Kingdom. On the other hand, whatever the state of one’s finances, one’s interior life can also be clogged by various disordered attachments, which prevent the life-blood of God’s love and grace from penetrating one’s mind and heart. In either case, as we noted yesterday, one focuses so much on the self, on its achievements and possessions, that one loses sight of God. One is so preoccupied with negotiating the river of life that one neglects to keep in touch with its Source. One forgets that it is the Lord who deals death and give life.
It’s perhaps important to focus a little more attention on what the image of clogged arteries adds to our reflection. For isn’t it far too easy for many of us to dissociate ourselves from Jesus’ challenge to the rich? It’s easy for us to think that we are not wealthy enough to fall within the scope of Jesus’ critique. True, we may not all be as rich as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, or Li Kashing and the king of Tyre of the first reading, but are we any less attached to the riches that we do (or yearn to) possess? Are we anymore able to pass through the needle’s eye? Do we not need to pay careful heed to the warning of the gym article? One can appear thin in material riches and still have arteries that are so clogged by the cholesterol of selfishness and apathy, of pride and unforgiveness, that the flow of God’s love and grace is dangerously impeded.
Again, the bottom line is worth recalling: fat or thin, rich or poor, we all need to keep fit. On a regular basis, we all need to set aside time to exercise the spiritual muscles that keep us in touch with God. Perhaps the fat and the rich need it more. Perhaps some may even get to the stage where a spiritual angioplasty becomes necessary. But how sure are we that we are still far from that eventuality? How sure are we that our arteries remain unclogged?
How might we continue to keep spiritually fit today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 10:36 am