Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Pragmatic Gospel

The older I get the more I realize something very strange.

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30)

The fact is that even if you put aside the question of eternal life - which is supernatural and which is known to us only by Divine Revelation - even if you focus only on the meaning of these words in this life, they are profoundly and utterly true.

There is no greater guide to happiness in this life than the Way of Jesus and the lives of his saints.

There is no greater pragmatic guide to living, no greater preparation for reality, than the Gospel, than the way of the cross.

For the Gospel - and all of Scripture - and all of Church teaching - reveals one primary truth about how to live:  from renunciation and sacrifice comes both compensation and persecution ... and eternal life - a kind of deep mysterious joy - begun in us even now.  

That is simply the primary psychological truth about life.

And, really, you can't exclude the supernatural element.  For the Kingdom of God is among us and within us; sanctifying grace and the Holy Spirit dwell like seeds or germs or leaven in our breasts, and can be cultivated for the fulfillment toward which they point.

Truths like these are found everywhere in Scripture.  They operate on many levels and open themselves up to us in surprising ways at unexpected times.

And if it's only a guide book, it's the most remarkably accurate guide book ever written.


Benjamin. said...

Where is the line drawn between compensation in this life and prosperity gospel?

Kevin O'Brien said...

Benjamin, that's a great question.

First, we are not to give up things so that we might be rewarded in return. Our relationship with God should not be, "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine." We should give up things out of love for God.

Second, the compensations He provides are usually not material. He gives us gifts that are far greater than the things the Prosperity Gospel folk preach about.

Here's Mother Teresa: "The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy."

She and her sisters renounced the things of this world for His sake, and He gave them in return not the things of the world that they had renounced, but a far greater and deeper joy.