(disclaimer…I had to learn this all the hard way!)
Life is about relationships.
A successful and well lived life in one in which we love others, in which we are loved and in which we see others as children of God.
In other words, the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is our faith as Catholics which comes to us in Jesus Christ. He reveals to us the nature of God, as Trinity, a community of three persons, yet a community so unified that the three are one. He reveals to us the nature of God as love, which binds the three as one. He reveals to us our nature as humans, as beings created in the image of God, that we are alive when in relationships, when there is love.
In Jesus’ life, he cured, he forgave, he inspired so that people could and would be part of community, part of life. So that people would love. He called us to live in this Kingdom of Heaven, to make it real here and now in this world.
So that living in it NOW…it would be natural for us to live it in the next.
Thus we are invited, inspired, called, through the Eucharist, through the body and blood of Christ, to live in this manner. We are called to life.
Yet, so many of us struggle with this. I do not think most of us truly understand this.
Based on my own life and based on the privilege of hearing confessions, many of us are stuck. We are not living to fullness of our call or faith. We are not fully alive.
Here is what I hear so often…I am so impatient all the time; I am so frustrated with my wife, my husband, my kids, my parents; I am angry all the time; I hate the democrats, I hate the republicans, I hate immigrants, I hate….
This is why this Gospel of today is so important. Jesus is being very, very clear; stop trying to be such control freaks! We get into so much trouble when we worrying about things we have no control over. We try to control way too much in this world and in this universe, and that includes God as well.
We want our spouses to act in a certain way, we want our children to act in a certain way, we want our parents, our politicians, we want everyone to act the way we want them to act. And of course, they don’t.
And then we get impatient, frustrated and angry. This anger builds and builds and builds, and becomes hate. And then that hate feeds our depression, our violence, our addictions, our isolation. This in turn separates us from others, from love. Marriages break down; family dysfunction arises, friendships strain, communities fight…
This is not life. This is not the Kingdom of Heaven.
As some have heard me say over and over, only because I have to say it to myself over and over…the only person in this entire universe that I can control is myself! And what I can control of myself is not very much.
And as Jesus says, then don’t worry about what I cannot, don’t worry about what any of us cannot control.
See, when we give up trying to control, trying to manipulate others around us; when we give up trying to control the entire Universe, when we give up thinking that we are always correct, OR give up trying to be God; OR give up fearing the universe…. then, paradoxically, we become truly powerful. We become alive.
Look to our Lord and Saviour. Did he try to control anyone? He inspired, motivated, and taught others to follow him; but he never forced them. Yet, throughout it all, he was in control of himself. He was totally free, even as he was being nailed to the cross. Control because he was doing what he wanted to do, what he could do. Because he knew he was loved and never forgotten by the Father.
He knew there was nothing, NOTHING, to fear.
God the Father was ultimately in Control, and the Father loved him.
The Father loves us.
Lent starts this Wednesday….here is challenge to all of us. We will make the normal sacrifices, we will give up chocolate and sweets, alcohol, etc. Fine. I challenge of us all to give up trying to control what we cannot.
I challenge all of us to start off the day praying in this manner…”God, you are God, not me. I will do what I can, so as to love and be loved. The rest of the Universe and all others are in your hands. Help me to understand this”
And if we honestly put our hearts and wills into this, at Easter time, 40 days hence, we too will be truly celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will celebrate Life, in all its wonder, and in all of its beauty, and in all of its Love.