‘A good Christian is mysterious and he is mysterious because he is amphibious. He lives in two worlds. He is at his best when he leads a double life, at once both human and divine.’ Now I cannot really say I have been living this kind of a lifestyle, but being in the seminary, I have definitely got a slight taste of what this is all about, not so much by me living this out, but by being surrounded by real good Christians.
We are all in search for God in our lives. You may have heard this line a million times, but I repeat it for just one reason – IT IS VERY TRUE. In the words of St. Augustine – ‘Our hearts are made for you Lord and they will never find their resting place till they find it in you.’ We all have a God shaped hole within us and we are constantly looking at filling this hole. Some truly try to search for God and let him have his place, the others just stuff one or the other thing thinking it will do justice. But today I want to share with you the four points that St. Thomas Aquinas said are usually used by us humans to fill the God shaped hole in our lives. Let us see how Christ looks at all these four points.
The world speaks of Power as a force that enables you to stand firm and make a point. The more power you have the more you are respected. The more power you have the more followers you will have. Power will let you control things and let things happen your way. You are then in charge of people and these people need to listen to everything you say. It definitely sounds a good deal if you are listening with your sinful heart because you will then try to fill the God shaped hole in you with power because power will then let you play God.
Christ view – God is not against you having power. He himself appoints people and gives them authority and power. What God does not like is you acting mad and craving for power because one thing for sure is that you will never be blessed by power from him. Power is actually a gift of God. Rom 13:1 –‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.’ It is a force that enables you to serve the other in a much greater way. The more power you have, the more you need to serve the people.
Christ on the cross might seem a symbol of the world’s most powerless man but yet at the same time he stood powerful because at that very moment he defeated death.
*Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who willing resigned when he realized he was not able to do justice to the task entrusted to him, showing great humility and not wanting the power according to the world.
Satisfying your desires through any means is one of the simplest definitions of pleasure. The world believes in pleasure. It believes in doing away with pain and sorrow. It is all about doing things that please you and make you happy, whatever it may be. Pleasure is about how I fulfill my desires and do things that will satisfy me. We fill the God shaped hole in us with pleasure as it gives us a momentary satisfying feeling which we substitute for God, because God is the only one that satisfies us completely.
Christ view – Christ wants to satisfy you and that is why he came. In Jn 10:10 he says he came to give us life in abundance but Christ does not approve of the pleasure according to the definition of the world. His definition is mentioned in Mt 5 – the Beatitudes.
For Christ to hang on that cross was not really a moment of pleasure but at the same time he was satisfied because he completed the will of the Father. He has accomplished his mission on earth.
*Mother Teresa of Kolkata, who lived to satisfy Christ in the poor and the needy and in turn found pleasure just by seeing Christ satisfied in them.
Money buys happiness. This is one of the ideas propagated by the world which is very appropriate for today. Every human is in want to gather and collect more wealth. People work extra hours, over time, do double jobs and if that is not enough, the world has people who rob, kill, steal, loot, kidnap etc for wealth. The more wealth you have, the more you feel you have a standard in the crowd. We try to fill the God shaped hole in us with wealth because it adds value to our life in substitution of God who is the single most valuable thing who can fill the hole.
Christ view – God is not against money. He is not saying that to be a good Christian you need to be poor. All that he is saying is that you should not make money your God. CCC 2544 – ‘Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel.’ Do not let the want of money steal your happiness, family time and joy. God wants you to be rich but not like the way the world understands it.
CCC 2426 also mentions that ‘The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man.’
On the cross Christ did not have any wealth with him, yet he was establishing his own kingdom and was rich in the eyes of God.
*Remember burial shrouds do not have pockets to let you take your wealth along with you.
Your ego is what defines who you are. Your name must be glorified. You must get all praises. You are made of the amount of honour your name carries. Do not bow down in front of anyone. Others must respect you. This belief system of the world just makes it impossible to live in peace and contentment and is the shortest route to our very own ruin.
Christ view – Christ is clear about honour. He says you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. (Mt 16.24) But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Mt 19.30), The greatest among you will be your servant. (Mt 23:11) etc.
On that cross, Christ was stripped of every honour and he hung naked, beaten and lifeless but still he was honoured by the words of the centurion in Mt 27: 54 – Truly he was the Son of GOD.
*Papa Francis willingly washed the feet of 12 prisoners as his first sign of denying himself and serving the people.
We need to first of all fall in love with the crucified Christ. It is only when we empty ourselves completely of honour, pleasure, power and wealth (according to the world) like Christ emptied himself on the cross that we will be filled by the love that flows from his side.
Remember Christ can only fill as much as we empty ourselves. How much are you going to empty yourself today?