Rubbish and Righteousness

—[But] whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.
More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ
and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith
to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
—Philippians 3:7-11, from today’s Gospel acclamation

Again we find ourselves confronted by Scripture with questions of value.

Last week I wrote about how a life in Christ changes our definitions of “rich” and “poor”. Yesterday, Grace likened accusatory thoughts or invitations to self-pity to junk mail. The day before, Lauren referenced St. Therese’s “little way,” which is a summation of her belief that her little actions, imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit, were a valuable contribution to her world.

Here again today, we are called to contemplate how much value we ascribe to Christ. Job eloquently describes his fear of the LORD in the first reading; he clearly places a high importance of God’s movements in his life, but his fear is incomplete: Job loathed his life, blaming God, “because in his own eyes he was in the right.” (Job 32:1).

In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus offers another way to look at God’s importance in your life: Bringing about the Kingdom of God is more important than any worldly matter, even those we hold most dear, like our families or grief. St. Paul, in today’s Gospel acclamation quoted above, offers his own version of “Christ above all”.

I am a cradle Catholic, and have been largely spared from crises of faith in my life. Simply put, God has always held a place of prominence. I have always valued my faith.

How does my faith hold up when scrutinized in the light of today’s readings?

How often have I blamed God, or maybe the Church, for making my life miserable? How many times have I longed to live free of consequence and responsibility, knowing in my heart that it’s impossible and harmful? How have negative circumstances in life pushed me away from my faith, turning to other, unsatisfying coping mechanisms. Do I turn to the Lord in times of trouble, truly believing that He can hear my voice, or is He too far away, a distant, conceptual God that probably can’t or won’t work real miracles in my life.

Looking to St. Paul and Jesus’ words: How much have I given up for Christ? Going further, how much have I given up happily, knowing that the righteousness of Jesus far outshines any worldly matter I might hold dear? Are there areas in my life today that I could step out more radically in faith?

How far are we willing to go? What are we holding on to? What little sins, little vices, little omissions, little habits (little little little little… so we don’t notice them piling up) are holding us back from a heart that burns radically for Jesus?

Pray with this question:  Are there areas in my life today that I could step out more radically in faith?

Then pray again.

Then do it.

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