Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Desiring to be Last. By: C.C.

"But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." (Matthew 19:30)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1-9)

We spend our lives in a state of yearning for achievements and accolades. From the classroom setting into various sporting and artistic endeavors we can be geared toward acquiring and deeply desiring tangible merit for our successes. The pat on our backs perhaps proclaims to us that we are worthy, that we have done well. 

To be imbued with the Gospel is to live out our natural lives and numerous tasks that we are given, mindful of the supernatural aid that sustains us. While also being ever reminded of our limitations and the Lord's provision in our lives of all that we have received.  

The daily Gospel readings over past little while have focused on the inheritance of heaven and how we can strive to live eternally with our Lord. This eternal reality that is so very hidden from us, yet by faith so very visible, can be a difficult concept to fully understand. It is fitting however that we do not understand it completely, and even necessarily so. For we must strive only to understand the importance of seeking God and living our lives in accordance to His teachings, and in imitation of the virtues that were so visibly exuded by the holy men and women we come to know throughout our rich Church history. 

When we reconcile ourselves to understanding the baseness of our earthly inheritance  in order to keep proper order of things and recognize the true value of things eternal we can begin to live well and to use our worldly merit and gain for the good of the kingdom of God. 

The close of today's Gospel proclaims to us that "many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."   It is a very defeated message in the eyes of the world. We are so groomed to be first in all things and failure is shunned and even feared by many. Thus, we do never acquire a true sense of greatness at all, but are merely like hamsters running endless wheels getting no where. If we desire heaven, and we want to take our faith life seriously then we must meditate upon our end. I'm not suggesting to live with a fear of apocalyptic ending per say or to go out and purchase caskets and jump out of airplanes as some part of a bucket list. But rather to give each day fully to our Lord in gratitude, to offer Him back the gifts that He has so freely given to you, and to cultivate these using them for His glory. 

We must live desiring to be last in all things so that He may be first, and in this we begin well, and even live well. Through this humble manner we can acquire a true sense of peace and joy in our time of serving. 

I have chosen to follow the close of today's Gospel reading with a passage from 1 Peter, because I think this does well to further drive home the true promise of eternal life and our inheritance by faith. Though we are presented with the reality of suffering, we are given a reminder of our hope. And to Who we must be ever mindful of. 

We are naturally drawn to the good, to want glory, and peace, to want to live in a state of "happiness". But when the reality of suffering inevitably comes we do not always greet it with pleasantry. we can be led to ask some serious questions "What is such a life?" "What's the point of faith?" If we ask the questions, then we too must welcome the answers that have already been answered. In the Person of Jesus Christ. 

When we are refined by fire we can learn how to praise all the more. And indeed recognize how much our God loves us if we remain desiring union with Him. 

For much of my adolescent years and young adult life I spent desiring to be first. In many ways. Running on my own esteem and the baseness of human passions----(that's an understatement in avoidance of wanting to be crude) The emptiness of it was undeniable. Surely I had every good reason to remain that way through a worldly lens, but how then did it fade ever so quickly? how did I soon see how worthless and how lost I was? That alone belongs to the mystery of God and to the reality of our faith. When eternal life can be accepted as real, then the daily life that we are given takes on great purpose and meaning. We do not climb the ladder to heaven as one climbs the corporate ladder, for in many ways, and even the most essential way this is done is by always desiring to be last.

We begin well, by desiring to end well in our Lord alone. 

May we strive daily to live mindful of the inheritance of heaven so that we may spend our days living as Jesus taught us. Loving God above all things, and striving to love our neighbor. (CC)

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