Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Poor Man with Money

"A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money"
- W. C. Fields

Where are we going?
Why are going there? 
How will we get there?
Will we be happy when we’re there?

There really is a sort of despair in accomplishing worldly success. That is, you can be aware of that despair if your senses haven’t been numbed by the process that it took to achieve that worldly success. That sounds sort of bleak but it’s not and here is why: we aren’t working towards the Kingdom of the World. We are working towards the Kingdom of God. This is a Kingdom built on Love. Any despair we might be experiencing is really only a temporary frustration, and at that, a gentle reminder that the prize is Christ, not the world. 

Pope Benedict XVI explains this beautifully in Spe Salvi:
“Day by day, man experiences many greater or lesser hopes, different in kind according to the different periods of his life.  Sometimes one of these hopes may appear to be totally satisfying without any need for other hopes. Young people can have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain position in their profession, or of some success that will prove decisive for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes clear that they were not, in reality, the whole. It becomes evident that man has need of a hope that goes further. It becomes clear that only the infinite will suffice for him, something that will always be more than he can ever attain. In this regard our contemporary age has developed the hope of creating a perfect world that, thanks to scientific knowledge and to scientifically based politics, seemed to be achievable. Thus Biblical hope in the Kingdom of God has been displaced by hope in the kingdom of man, the hope of a better world which would be the real “Kingdom of God.” 
So any frustration we experience in work is a reminder that my hope has been misplaced in the kingdom of man. We may have had a series of worthy hopes and goals that we see accomplished over the years but it ends up like Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a sense that it is all meaningless. In pursuing goals we can become so fixated on them that we start to think that everything will be ok, that we will be able to come up for air and breathe a sigh of relief, if we could just…just...
If I can just win this deal, just finish this project...
If I can just get this job, become the top employee on our team, district, division, sector, company...
If I can just get out of debt, just get the kids’ college paid for, just have a sufficient savings set aside, just pay for the dream house...
If I can just live more independently.
If I can just finish this race, just win this race...
If I can just finish this class, just finish this degree, just get this business to this level of profitability...
If I can just win this election, get this majority, pass this bill, when this reelection.
If I can just get the right idea across, present it the right way to the right person, at the right time....
If I can just get it all right… Well, then what? 

Well, then there’s always something else to take care of.   
If we realize our goals, (any of them), and we are still dissatisfied it can be a gentle reminder that our ultimate goal will not be reached on this earth. Even if the goal seems to be in direct alignment with serving Christ in our vocation, whether it is in ministry to one's family, the Church or the world. 

If I am foolish enough to think that everything will be ok once I get the job done then I am due for a good run of frustration until the Holy Spirit reminds me that the journey is love and anything outside of that won’t last. 

As Mother Teresa reminds us:
“God has not called me to be successful, he has called me to be faithful. “ 
Or as Pope Benedict explains:
“Success” is not one of the names of God…but “consuming fire” is."

 So sure, one can set out a course for serving ones family’s temporal needs and a plan of getting there all in the service of fulfilling the responsibilities in their vocation as spouce and parent, but the goal is Christ. It is simple, if we neglect the spiritual needs of our families in pursuing the fulfillment of their temporal needs then we have set up an idol in our home that will bring us nothing but problems. The goal is Christ.

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