From time to time I think we all examine our possessions and we decide to give away things. A few years ago, I donated one of my winter coats to charity, but I kept the inner zipper lining of the coat. And now this is what I wear on a cold day. It has buttons and zippers on the outside, but I don’t care how it looks, it keeps me warm.
In the Gospel today, Jesus is calling us to do far more than reverse the way we wear our clothes; he is calling us to reverse the values of the world, to turn the values of the world inside out, and to embody Gospel values. The world values possessions, money, good opinions and no worries. These are not bad things. And there’s a temptation to oversimplify the teaching today: for example, rich=bad, poor=good, and so forth, and then to walk away from what seems to be the unreality of such a teaching.
But if we are not careful in not consciously developing our own comprehensive embodiment of the Gospel, we will soon find that there is no room for God, there is no room for growth in the spiritual life.
Our mission is to create space for God, first in our heart, then in our world. To do that, it’s better to be empty, better to be hungry, better to be open and available.
Today’s Gospel is a call to a deeper consciousness, as part of a process of transformation, which at its best is comprehensive. For example, anyone can say they are not watching the Super Bowl today because the consumerism, the violence, the racism of the NFL is against Gospel values. But that’s just using the Gospel to be a grouch or to be self-righteous. We are called to live the Gospel so personally that our individual choices become obvious.