Many of us have had the experiences of visiting parts of the world where people have very little of what has become readily available to most of the world. There are places where people don’t have fast-food, cellphones, computers, X-Boxes, Netflix and all of the things we fill our time up with today. Many of us are deeply moved by the deep faith and great openness of the people in those places to a true relationship with God that the experiences of visiting these places, knowing these people and the impression that they make upon us affects the way we respond to the Gospel, perhaps seeking to simplify our own lives a little bit more.
Sometimes, I’ve heard it said that it seems when we have so little, we fill our emptiness with God and His love, but I have never really liked this explanation for the deep vein of faith that runs through a community and speaks of a people who have little material wealth but much faith and trust in the love of God. I don’t like this explanation because it seems based on pity and isn’t going to bring about conversion in us, who have much. It will always remain “us and them”. Emptiness filled with God is a reality for all of us, and I think speaks of sin, which we all struggle with and which causes emptiness and confession and the Sacraments fill us and restore us again.
Instead, I think when people have little of the material things in the world, they are much more able to be grateful for what they do have, and thus able to be grateful for the spiritual food our souls’ desire. Maybe I speak for myself alone here (but I think there are many who can relate), the more and more I have, the less grateful I am for what I do have and the little things get lost amid the sea of possessions. I try to be grateful for what I have and a drastic purging of everything all of a sudden isn’t a balanced response to God’s love for me either. The best “things” I have in my life is my faith, the people I love, my priesthood, my ministry and the men I serve as Director of Vocations. These are my true gifts from God and my soul is nourished by the Eucharist and restored through confession. The other “things” serve a certain purpose, but not a significant one.
It’s important that we try to put people and the free time we have to being with people before a video game or television show. It’s important that we communicate our love for people before we communicate what we want or expect of them. It’s important that God, the people He gave us and our faith be the greatest gifts we cherish and share every day. The other things are okay, but they are at the service of these three greatest gifts we all have been given in our lives. May God bless you.