I was celebrant on the 12.00 here today and I get to be celebrant on the 9.30 tomorrow morning. It seems like ages since I was celebrant here (we do a lot of supplies). When I saw the Gospels for these Masses my heart sank a little. These are not easy texts. All the way to the Feast of Christ the King the Gospels get more and more apocalyptical and we are again and again challenged to make the choice between God and the world. By 'world' I do not mean nature but the system of distorted values we keep in our hearts and lives and share with those around us. I mean also the passions, those disordered powers of the soul that constantly tempt to drag us down into the pit.
Today I interpreted 'money' in wider sense as wealth - anything that we want to hold onto as valuable. I told the people that what we really want to hold on to we grip in our fist so to speak. Yet a closed fist is unable to receive. It matters little what it is closed upon whether a halfpenny or a billion Euro, it is not the amount but the fist and the will that is wrapped around it. The love of wealth itself is often only the symptom of deeper problems. Our wealth can be our good name, our pride or hurts we refuse to forgive. The closed fist cannot receive. No matter how we pray if we pray with closed fists we are hypocrites and traitors.
What if we discover that our fists are closed are we lost? No, but we can make a start towards opening the fist and letting go. If we find no desire to do this we must pray for it for really it takes the grace of God to make any progress at all. He must open our fingers one by one. It is the open hand that can receive. What do we receive, what do we get from God? We get Himself. God the Father wishes to give Himself totally through His Son. What a deal! For nothing we get the ALL!
It occurred to me recently that God the Father really takes my salvation seriously but He takes my freedom just as seriously. He is serious enough to allow the Son to endure the Cross and death so as to reveal and make effective the LOVE of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father. Despite this ultimate act of worshipful love the Father so respects my freedom that He will let me choose not to spend eternity with Him. That's some love.
That total love surely demands a total response? Isn't that what Sunday's Gospel is about? Jesus admires the woman for her total love. Her love for God makes her give until it hurts, indeed it puts her life and welfare at risk. In contrast the publicly religious Pharisees only love to the point that it suits them and in the process exchange the true wealth (communion with God) for dross, the passing dust of this world.
The choice is ours: to cast in our lot with God or to hold onto what seems secure and lose eternity. Who has the guts to do it?