Monday, March 03, 2014

Afternoon meditation: Counting on an inheritance

Sometimes the liturgy goes overboard trying to get our attention. Or maybe it's just me.

Yesterday's powerful Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount coincided with our community Day of Recollection. (Religious are to make a monthly Day of Recollection. It's Canon Law!) Anyway, this being the week Lent begins, that Gospel about putting all our trust (really) in our Heavenly Father imposed itself as the theme for my Lent in this Year of Big Transitions. When I read today's Gospel (last night), I saw that story of the rich young man as a confirmation of that, even thought it offers the flip side of yesterday's Gospel: this is what happens when you shrink from putting your trust in God. You walk away sad. "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!"

But then today's Saint shows us that it is, in fact, possible: Katharine Drexel was nothing if not rich. And she was rich to the day of her death, the owner and administrator of a mind-blowingly huge inheritance from her banker father. But, like Christ, though she was rich, she made herself poor, so that by her poverty others might become rich. (This passage from St. Paul, by the way, is the verse before today's Gospel--not from the Mass of today's Saint. This, in other words, is God trying really hard to get our attention.)

My interest piqued by the fittingness of the Gospel falling on Katharine's feast day, I suddenly realized that the word "inheritance" or "inherit" (which one naturally associates with Katharine Drexel) appears in all three readings of today's Mass, that is, the first reading, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel. To "inherit" is to come into wealth that you did not work for. Peter, in the first reading, tells the early Christians that they have received a "new birth" to "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading." You live differently (or I assume you would!) if you were confident of an inheritance. You might even live "like the birds of the air...the lilies of the field," knowing that all you need has been provided for.

Yes, I do think I know what I need to focus on for Lent. How about you?

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