Do The Math
Thirty-first Week of Year II Thursday November 3, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm encourages us: “Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord”
In Philippians 3: 3-8 Paul bases his abandonment of all things on his discovery of the “pearl of great price.”1
I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Once Paul discovered the “surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ,” he didn’t care what else he gained or lost; he knew he had it all.
So why do we cling to things? To anything? Health? Prosperity? Success? Rank and prestige? Acceptance by others? Life itself? What are we afraid to lose? Why?
Because of the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” we know that God himself is dwelling in our hearts. Not as in a box, but as uniting us to himself, giving us a share in his own divine life. Life that can never end. Life without bounds. Life that is total happiness. We have within us, right now, all that we can possibly need or desire. And we have it for all eternity. We have God.
This is the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” that we recall with gratitude at the beginning of every Mass.2 What more do we need? “Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord,” especially after they have found him!
Does this mean we just sit back and bask in banked beatitude like someone with nothing more to work for?
No. No one has more or more assured happiness than God, but in Luke 15: 1-10 Jesus is describing God’s impassioned desire when he speaks of a shepherd combing hills and valleys until he finds his lost sheep. And of a woman “lighting a lamp, sweeping the house, and searching carefully” until she finds a lost coin. Both the shepherd and the woman had enough sheep and coins not to need the lost one. But they could not give up the search. Why?
God searches for us, not because it is necessary for his happiness, but because it is necessary for ours. Love is to want someone to esse et bene esse: “to be and to be fulfilled.” God’s love first made us be by creation, then his love sent Jesus so that we might “have life and have it to the full”: living on the level of God, sharing God’s own divine life.3
For the same reason we, as stewards of Christ’s kingship, cannot rest until the whole world is brought under his life-giving reign. So we work for that.
2This greeting is taken from Romans 16:20; Galatians 6:18; 1Thessalonians 5:28; 2Thessalonians 3:18.
3St. Augustine and John 10:10.