Monday, November 26, 2012 — Week of Proper 29, Year 1
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 995)
Psalm 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)
“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24)
Like a political cartoonist, Jesus draws a picture of an overburdened camel, luggage piled high and hanging off both sides, heavily burdened with its prodigious load, unsuccessfully trying to squeeze through a narrow place because it is unable or unwilling to let go.
It is saying the obvious to state that ours is a consumer society. We are surrounded by messages conditioning us to buy more, get more and to satisfy the gods of our culture — appearance, affluence, achievement. Yet everything we own in some sense also owns us. It must be cared for, washed, repaired, protected. Those cultural voices speak lies to us — “You are what you wear.” “You are what you earn.” “Your worth depends on your performance.” Heavy burdens. Demanding gods.
There is another kind of wealth that is more subtly threatening. It is the burden of possessing an excess of right thinking and right acting. Religious people can be particularly greedy consumers of right thinking and right acting. An overemphasis on right thinking produces fundamentalisms of all kinds. And overemphasis on right acting produces burnout. And when we extend that to try to make the world “believe as we believe” or “act as we act” without regard for the independent needs of others, we can become terribly oppressive. Most of us get full of our own ideas and overextended with our own doings. Most of us are in some way fundamentalist and burned out.
Most deep truths, most right thinking, is pretty simple — God is good. Creation is a wonderful mystery. Everything is connected. Healing is possible. Growth happens. Greed brings suffering. But even these truths need to be held gently in the face of the mystery that is Reality Itself. Truth is more than my concept of truth. “God is love” means more than my understanding of love.
And anyone who has entered into deep silence or fallen into profound love knows that being is greater than doing, and often not-doing is greater than doing.
There are ways to let go and to travel lightly. To live more simply, hold gently, float into life. When you are not carrying so much, it is easier to go through narrow places.