|A sunset I encountered on a bike ride just recently.|
2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20
Gospel of Matthew 6:19-23
The other day in a Facebook post I wrote about how much better life was now that I actually get out of the house and do things. What many people don't know is that I used to be a hardcore gamer. Not just the kind of who played a lot, but the kind who was consumed with the game. I played a game called Everquest. It wasn't the only Massive Multiplayer Online game that I played, but it was the one I played the most. For 15 years I played this game, from the opening day in 1999 until 2015ish. That's right, I was playing it still just a year ago. I wasn't nearly as hardcore as I was in the early 2000's though.
I used to only think about that game. When I was at work I was thinking of what I would be doing when I got home. I had to be off at a certain time because I couldn't miss a 'raid.' For a while I was one of the core players in a guild and showed up every day to make sure that things were happening. I even got to the point where my raid attendance (that is my log in time since we went on a raid every night) was in the high 90%s. That means that I was on 9 out of 10 days for 4-5 hours, sometimes up to 8. I once told the person I was living with that I didn't care if the utilities were cut off, I had to have the newest expansion now! I spent every penny I could on a computer to make sure I could play it. I didn't think of much else, especially relationships. It ruined them in fact. I watched as people got divorces, broke up, new relationships were formed, and even met my future wife there. I had to learn the hard way that I would only find peace when I took things in moderation, when I put Jesus first. I didn't have to give up gaming, but it had to be in it's proper place. Otherwise I'd have missed that sunset up there, and many more.
It reminds me of the reading from 2nd Kings, when Athaliah found out that her son had died. She then proceeded with a plan to kill out the rest of the royal family so that she would be in charge. The kingdom, it's power, wealth, glory... had consumed her. It was all she could think of. Even to the point of killing her own grand children. Through the providence of God though, her sister saved one of the children and took him to the temple. Out of love she took him to where he would be safe. That's an important lesson spiritually there isn't it? Love means leading someone to God. In the end, Joash, the young man who was saved, was crowned king. Athaliah ended up dead for her treachery and evil heart.
Jesus reminds us of that kind of love in the Gospel. He teaches us that wherever our heart is, that's where our treasure is. On the one hand we can be like Athaliah, seeking one of those four spheres of influence: pleasure, wealth, honor, or power. She wanted it so badly that she was willing to kill for it. Her sister showed us the other side, love. Sacrificing anything and even at the risk of her own life, she fought for the young man and took him where he would be safe, in the hands of God. Anytime we put anything before God, anytime we seek power, honor, wealth, or pleasure, before seeking love; that's when we sin. St. Paul reminds us that the wages of sin is death. Athaliah saw that in a very real, and powerful way. Joash on the hand gained all four by first being taught to seek God.
We are members of a royal kingdom, brothers and sisters of the Incarnate God. In Him we have received life. Through our Baptism we have received the Holy Spirit to guide us and protect us. We seek Him in our hearts, in our living Tabernacle, and also in the Tabernacle of the Church, the Eucharist. It is in Him we find life. Satan is our Atahaliah. He seeks to destroy us, to bring us to sin. When we sin seriously we destroy our relationship, just as I destroyed one many years ago over a game. If I had been seeking God? Who knows what might have happened. I am still a far happier man today, but I have learned that I have to be hidden in the temple with Him to remain safe. That doesn't mean I never leave the Church building, but it means that I take Him with me and He keeps me with Him wherever I go.
Jesus talks of the blind, those who can't see. How that if life cannot enter the body, then darkness is there. I also say that if one keeps their eyes and hearts fixated on something that is dark, something that leads them from God.. then their eyes will scale over with Sin, just like St. Paul and Hosea. It is Jesus who is our light, our cure. He is coming to us each day in the Sacraments, in the poor, in the outcast. He wants to fill us with the light of love, to enshroud us in the armor of God, that we too might be kept safe from the evil that seeks to end our spiritual life. That means we too need to seek Him, and to bring others with us to find Him... and just as Mary and Joseph many years ago, we will find Him in His Father's House... the Holy Catholic Church. Are you looking for Him? Last week I prayed a serious prayer in Adoration.. I asked Jesus to take my heart with Him into the tabernacle. To keep me always by His side, forever, and ever. May he answer that prayer for each and every one of you, as well.
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."