In the on-going reflection (inspired by His Living Word this week!), this hermit received a phone call late yesterday while taping off another section of siding trim, readying to paint.
A daughter called and shared the debate she is having with her young son who persists in wanting material things. He is at an age of being influenced and tempted by neighborhood boys whose parents have varying notions and practices of what matters. (The topic is providential!)
At one point in what was a long day of explaining to and battling the lad--and holding firm--about what are priorities, what are prudent uses of money and what tend to be wasteful outcomes, the child declared he wanted a $100 pumpkin (huge one, obviously) like the neighbor boys were given by their parents.
What? This all-ears Catholic hermit remained calm despite how shocking the notion of a pumpkin costing $100, no matter how immense. The boy's mother explained that a large pumpkin will rot out the same as a small one. What remains, then, of any enjoyment or use? Then she had the insight to ask him to consider how many people he could help, with $100. He replied he could help many, many people with that much money.
I asked the daughter to ask the grandson to make a list of what he thinks matters to God. I shared the on-going reflection as to what matters to God and of first examining what are possessions--keeping in mind that possessions can vary and the bulk aren't even tangibles. And to qualify as a possession they also tend to be those things, ideas, persons, or aspects that possess us, as well.
Who knows if the daughter will remember to ask him. They are busy with schooling and various activities that lend to a balanced life for a child existing in our society today. But she already had perched upon a branch of Jesus' teachings, and the boy was being challenged to consider what matters.
Now, what matters to us can diverge from what matters to God. We need to merge into awareness and choices in what matters to God if we desire to be in union with His Real Presence. Then, for sure, what the neighbor kids want and have won't be a priority unless they have attained spiritual union with God already.
Today's Scripture from Romans 6 presents pertinent fodder for growing and storing knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in spiritual progress and attaining union with His Real Presence. It is all a process. In considering what types of possessions matter to God as opposed to what we desire to possess or are possessed by, St. Paul uses the example of obedient slaves.
We can be slaves who obey or who disobey. Obedience is key to being a good slave. Slaves who disobey don't fare well. Then, we can be slaves of someone or something or some thought that is either good or not good--and that can be according to what is good or not good in the world or what is good or not good according to God. And sometimes what is good according to God tends also to be good in the world, although not always. But what is good according to God is always good for us, regardless.
Then St. Paul weaves in a type of obedience that perhaps we've never considered, at least not consciously. This is obedience from the heart. We can be obedient from our bodies and minds according to laws, according to what others ask of us, according to what others have or do, and according to our own desires--for good or ill.
But to be obedient from the heart inspires an obedience that comes from faith, hope, love. It is an obedience that transcends temporal or natural or societal or cultural or even ecclesial laws in the sense that obedience from the heart suggests obedience from love and of the soul. Obedience of the heart requires the gifts of the Holy Spirit and also a submission of our souls to God's laws, obeyed in love and for the sake of His love.
Obeying from the heart often times results in good when applied to laws of the temporal order and of categories mentioned above. Yet in all of these considerations, heart-full obedience to God's laws and especially His law of love, will lead us to righteousness. Obedience from the heart as to what matters to God is righteous obedience, righteous slavery. We are led from "death" to righteous life.
"Do you not know that if you present yourselves
to someone as obedient slaves,
you are slaves of the one you obey,
either of sin, which leads to death,
or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin,
you have become obedient from the heart
to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.
Although quite aching with pain and weary from painting hermitage exterior (right arm numb in the night!), I will continue praying for understanding, knowledge, and wisdom as to how to actually obey from the heart. Yes, I will ask for this grace. Obeying from my heart, God's laws, will mean being a slave of righteousness: a veritable, loving, obedient slave of His Real Presence!
Is it so, then, that when we obey from the heart God's laws, then obedience from the heart to laws of the land, the Church, of workplaces and society, will become subsistent and accomplished simply, mindlessly, for God's law and being a slave to righteousness transcends the others? Seems so! God's laws sift and sort all other laws, so that those who obey from the heart His laws, the other laws become (to use a colloquial term) "grandfathered in."
Obedience from the heart and being a slave to righteousness places us in holy, loving servitude to God's omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. We remain in His Love! Surely this is what matters to God?
Dear His Real Presence, please give me the grace today and every day to be obedient from my heart and a slave to Your Righteousness! Thank You, in faith, hope, and love!
God bless His Real Presence in us!