Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looking ahead

Some Christian communities preach what is often referred to as the gospel of prosperity. And they do so openly.

They say: "It you give money generously, God will reward you many times over with more money, with more prosperity." It is literally taught as "quid pro cuo" ("this for that") truth. The closest that Jesus' message ever comes to saying that is stated quite boldly: "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred time more now in this present age" (Mark 10:29-30).

But there really is no literal evidence for that in the scriptures, particularly the Gospels. In fact, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus' real teaching precedes and follows these two verses.

First, Jesus tells the rich young man that to really discover Gospel and kingdom and compassion and truth, do the following: "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

Then Jesus explains the real riches that one will receive if and when you give up something surrender, leave behind, share with others, detach from their sense of dependence: "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up ... who will not receive a hundred time more now in this present age ... with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."

What a crazy quid pro quo! Give up possessions and you will be given persecution! But that, mysteriously, is right at the center of the message of Jesus. To be honest, it is at the center of marriage, of parenting, of loving, of following a dream. One cannot fine the treasure without sacrifice and letting go. To get this we often have to give up that.

On World Mission Sunday, this message could not be more profoundly applied to the missioner's life, giving up all and receiving the kingdom, the promise of Jesus.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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