Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16th...

“Jesus said to his disciples,… it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Today is the memorial of the death of Elvis Presley. [I’ll bet you thought I was going to say St. Stephen of Hungary or Brother Roger of Taize.] Actually, all three men have something to teach us if we can hear today’s gospel through the lens of their lives. We can learn what being rich really means and what is truly possible for God.

Stephen was a strong advocate for the Catholic faith and was crowned the first king of Hungary by the Roman pontiff. Rich in faith, rich in power, rich in wisdom, Stephen was acclaimed a saint less than fifty years after his death. Brother Roger – the founder of the Taize community in France – was killed by a mentally ill woman during Evening Prayer six years ago. An ecumenist by vocation, Roger helped to pen the community rule, nurture the simple chant that drew thousands on pilgrimage and gave his life as a martyr for Benedictine hospitality. Rich in faith, rich in imagination, rich in holiness – Brother Roger’s dream of Christ’s body made whole continues to be enfleshed by his brothers.

Last, but not least, Elvis Aaron Presley – a poor Mama’s boy from Tupelo, Mississippi – died on this day in 1977. “The King” of rock n’ roll was 42 years old when he died alone in a mansion called, “Graceland.” Rich in fame, rich in material wealth, Elvis was plagued by addiction, spiritual restlessness and a deep loneliness.

Jesus has taught us that the kingdom of God is at hand – here, in our midst. To “enter the kingdom” means living with God now in fidelity and joy – confident that the kingdom will come in its fullness later – in God’s time. I suppose it’s Elvis’ kind of rich that Jesus was talking about in this gospel. Although he was a believer in the gospel and a spiritual seeker throughout his life, somehow he was unable to know the true freedom of the children of God. Fame, money, sex, drugs – all these things became stumbling blocks – as they can for all people. St. Stephen and Brother Roger possessed another kind of wealth – the riches of faith, hope and love. When these are our real treasures, no stumbling block will keep us from entering the kingdom – right here, right now. Our simple Benedictine life is the path that leads us to the kingdom. And every now and then, when we have our priorities straight and our hearts open wide, the One who called us here beckons us to enter through the narrow gate. Here, now, we are given a taste of heaven in Word and wheat and in the intimacy of the common life. We are the rich ones. We know that God does the impossible within us and for us every day of our lives.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki