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Separating the things of this world from the things of eternity

February 23, 2017
Father Greg Friedman, OFM

Today’s Gospel contains one of the most realistic statements in Scripture: “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?” Jesus tells his disciples how to set their priorities with regard to material possessions, inviting them to learn dependence on God from the birds in the sky, the flowers in the field.

To be honest I find this Gospel text one of the most challenging of Jesus’ sayings. Even with a vow of poverty, I’ve accumulated a lot of possessions in my time as a friar. And I worry about what to eat, what to wear. Learning dependence on God isn’t easy in a consumer society like ours. What helped for me, and perhaps for you, has come from two saints.

In 1981 Mother Teresa of Kolkata came to visit the Franciscans in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, to help us celebrate the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis of Assisi. I recall the story very well. When she spoke at the Mass she recalled for us the famous story of Francis meeting the leper. At first he drew back. But then Francis embraced the leper. Mother Teresa said this: “From that day, Francis was born as a lover of Christ.” And she went on to say, “It seems to me, when you read his life, it’s as if he had a competition with Christ.” Who will be more poor, who will be free? For poverty, if it is understood properly, is a freedom. She went on, “To be able to love Christ with undivided love and chastity, we need the freedom of poverty.”

Having less, living simply and above all setting priorities about the things of this world versus the things of eternity. Such a life becomes possible with the teaching and the help of the Lord Jesus, assisted by St. Francis and St. Teresa of Kolkata.

Transcribed from Franciscan Father Friedman’s video Scripture reflection for Sunday, Feb. 26, retrieved from http://usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm.

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