REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
August 18, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matt. 19:30
Amid a culture of consumerism and a focus on self-advancement, the kingdom of God stands apart. We participate in God’s kingdom not by amassing wealth or promoting ourselves, but by following Jesus first and foremost. Jesus tells the disciples of the difficult task of entering the kingdom of God, saying, For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.
The above Bible reference, tucked in at the end of today’s Gospel, reveals much. It reveals a contradiction between worldly success and eternal success. So often we seek out worldly success and fail to seek the riches that last for eternity.
Let’s start with the “many who are first.” Who are these people? To understand this we must understand the difference between the “world” and the “Kingdom of God.” The world refers to a purely vain popularity within any given culture. Success, prestige, vainglory, and the like accompany worldly popularity and success.
The evil one is the lord of this world and will often seek to raise up those who serve his unholy will. But in so doing, many of us are enticed by and drawn to this form of notoriety. This is a problem, especially when we begin to take our identity in the opinions of others.
The “many who are first” are those whom the world elevates as icons and models of this popular success. This is a general statement that certainly does not apply to every particular situation and person. But the general tendency should be acknowledged. And according to this Scripture, those who get drawn into this life will be “last” in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Contrast this with those who are “first” in the Kingdom of God. These holy souls may or may not be honored in this world. Some may see their goodness and honor them (like Saint Mother Teresa was honored), but very often they are put down and considered undesirable in a worldly way.
What’s more important? What do you honestly prefer for all eternity? Do you prefer to be well thought of in this life, even if it means compromising values and the truth? Or are your eyes fixed on the truth and eternal rewards?
Reflect, today, upon the goal of building up treasure in Heaven and the eternal reward promised to those who live lives of fidelity. There is nothing wrong with being well thought of by others in this world, but you must never allow such a desire to dominate you or dissuade you from keeping your eyes on that which is eternal. Reflect upon how well you do this and seek to make the rewards of Heaven your exclusive goal.
Lord, please help me to seek You and Your Kingdom above all else. May pleasing You and serving Your most holy will be my one and only desire in life. Help me to shed the unhealthy concerns of worldly notoriety and popularity, concerning myself only with what You think. I give to You, dear Lord, my whole being. Jesus, I trust in You.