18th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

Today’s First Reading from the book of Deuteronomy is part of Moses’ “last testament” before the Israelites enter the Promised Land. He reminds them that all the prosperity they have enjoyed and will enjoy is a gift from God, and that God should be acknowledged as the source of all prosperity. Through no merit of their own they were liberated from Egypt and then taken to the Promised Land. Despite all their complaining Our Lord continued to be faithful to his promises, as he had throughout their history and the history of their fathers, the Patriarchs. When they lost sight of that, they got into trouble.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord encourages his disciples to practice detachment and to remember that everything they have comes from God. All things that God has created only serve us to the degree that they help us and others draw closer to God. Sometimes we lose sight of that: we want a life that does not involved self-denial and the Cross, a life where we own everything we could possibly want, not just everything we need. We seek financial security, comfort, and control, and we convince ourselves that we’ll be satisfied with having more money, more comfort, more control. But the things of this world are fleeting and we’ve all experienced that after one bill comes another, that we can’t always enjoy the health or comfort we crave, no matter how hard we try, and that there are many things that will always be beyond our control. When we get obsessed about achieving the impossible in this world–unlimited wealth (the latest and greatest and a big nest egg), complete comfort (no aches and pains, nothing unpleasant), and total control (everything arranged to our satisfaction)–those things that God created for our good become obstacles to drawing closer to him, and throw up obstacles for others as well.

Let’s take stock today of what we want in life and what we truly need, and see how we can better use the gifts God bestows on us to draw closer to him and help others to draw closer to him as well.

Readings: Deuteronomy 4:32–40; Psalm 77:12–16, 21; Matthew 16:24–28.