First Down (October 1, 2017)

Dear Friends,

There are people in my life I really care about; people who live their lives not overly concerned about having enough for the future. I watch how they can be content with what they have and how they exhibit little outward worry or stress about lacking things. Worst yet, they give freely of their time and possessions to other people, seemingly without counting the cost. In all honesty, I struggle with the way of life they show me. I have to admit I am one who plans, who makes sure that I have enough for the future, that I will not be caught short on things that I think are important to me personally. Their way of life seems odd to me, and I wonder how they seem so peaceful in dealing with life’s issues?

I think we all know that Jesus gives us many examples of placing the needs of others above our own. He says, to be great in his kingdom we must serve the needs of others first. We lay down our lives by sacrificing our own desire and security first. I have to admit that I like the ideal that Jesus talks about. It sounds great in theory. Yes, one can have a blessed life by taking care of other people. And I think that is the challenge for every Christian we hear about this way of life from – Jesus as an ideal rather than the true way for every disciple.

Words around me and in my deepest thoughts are that I must think of myself first, that my security, my needs, my concern for my loved ones should always be first. That is what people should do first; take care of their own needs. There is not enough for everyone, but our needs come first. It is the cry of the many people, even with those who have more than enough.

I constantly fight this battle, to place the needs of others first. I really admire those who live their lives not bound by security, possessions, having enough. Yet at the same time, I struggle with the fact they can be free from fear, thinking they do not have enough or that blessings and peace do not have to come only in possessions and control.

People want us to believe we need to think of ourselves first. Thinking all too long how we just help too many other people. This is so counter to the life Jesus calls us to. I reflect on my life and recall the many times I let go of my need to have enough and share with others and I am so at peace. I find the stress of living life lessens. I find that I have more than enough. I find that my life opens up to being grateful.

Now this is not an easy subject for many of us. The call is not to think of ourselves first, our own kind first, thinking we cannot do both. Fellow Christians, we cannot be true disciples of Christ if we live our lives thinking of our own needs first. Rather, as the prayer goes, “it is in giving, that we receive.” I bet that everyone at St. Patrick can remember many times we found those words to be true.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric