Christian Dominican Challenge
in English;" "Challenges in French." "Clarifications;"
"Amendments;" "Please vote;" "Voting is
closed." These must be familiar terms by now, perhaps too familiar.
Some of us may be looking forward to the end of the Chapter so that
we do not have to hear these words again: "challenges,"
this morning, a different challenge is put before us in Paul's letter
to the Colossians. This is a challenge that is Christian and Pauline,
and it admits of no amendments. Paul was faced with a Christian
community at Colossae that was not his showpiece, not his pride
and joy, because it was caught up in Gnostic speculations and other
problems. And so, he puts before them, and us, a very clear challenge
that answers the basic question: "Where ought the sights of
a Christian be fixed if he or she belongs to Christ and has been
raised up with Christ in baptism? He gives a simple and straightforward
answer, a direct challenge:
the things that are above where Christ is.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
Put to death the parts of you that are earthly.
is a corollary that follows from the fact that we have died with
Christ and have been raised with Christ. Certainly, where your treasure
is there will your heart be also. And, if you really believe something,
if you are convinced about it, you will live by your convictions;
you will be committed to your convictions. In a word, Paul is putting
before us the challenge of holiness: our lives must be hidden with
Christ in God; not steeped in what is earthly - immorality, passion,
evil desire, etc. We need realism in responding to the challenge
of being one with Christ; our feet on the ground spirituality, but
simultaneously with our head held high.
what does this mean in actual practice? How are we to live in Christ
and for Christ so that we can seek the things above and have our
lives hidden with Christ in God? How are we to travel our pilgrim
journey to holiness? How can we also become guides and helps to
others along this pilgrim way? Jesus is our guide and our lighthouse.
He shows us the way: "I am the way." "He who follows
me will have the light of life." "Follow me." "Listen
to my voice."
clue that will help us answer our quest is what Jesus gives us in
against all greed.
One's life does not consist in possessions.
Do not store up earthly treasure but be rich in what matters to
is indeed the true New Testament spirituality of poverty, detachment
and mendicancy. Without it, our sights will be set on the things
of earth, not on what is above, and we will not have put to death
earthly desires for possessions. Dispossess oneself, be detached.
do these things are not all that easy. But Vincent McNabb gives
us two wise principles of life which will help us to do this: "Cut
down your wants and cut down your needs." "Do as much
as you can with as little as you can." Then you will be able
to store up treasure in heaven and will share your goods with the
need material and financial resources, but let us not be like the
foolish rich man of today's Gospel. His riches were snatched away
from him in a flash. Our poverty provides us with time and space
for God, and it gives us an apostolic mobility that makes us available
for the Gospel, something riches will only rob from us.
spiritual wisdom of Jesus goes far beyond the practical wisdom of
the Book of Ecclesiastes where the preacher warns us that possessions
are vanity and great misfortune and that, whether we like it or
not, we will have to leave our material riches behind for someone
else. We cannot take anything (wealth, material possessions) along
with us in the last analysis. Unnecessary possessions bring anxiety,
and even sorrow and grief at their loss. Poverty and detachment
bring freedom and availability. "Blessed are the poor in spirit
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
saw this early on in his ministry when he and Bishop Diego were
in the South of France. He learnt from the Apostles and from the
Cathar heretics to cherish the freedom for God and for the Gospel
that came from poverty and detachment. He gave us mendicancy as
the secret weapon that gives authenticity to and assures the success
of our preaching mission. We need to retrieve that secret weapon.
me share an Indian story with you:
was a Guru who had a small hermitage on the banks of a river. One
of his very fervent disciples who joined him and underwent a long
apprenticeship finally became very proficient in the life of the
spirit. He became a holy, diligent, poor, ascetic, enthusiastic
disciple. One day the Guru came to him and told him that he had
to go on a long pilgrimage and that he would like him to look after
his hermitage during his absence. The disciple gladly agreed. In
the beginning, people flocked to the disciple because he was very
much like his Guru, poor and holy, and was able to give them great
spiritual advice. However, one day after the disciple had bathed
in the river, he hung up his loincloth to dry on the roof of the
hermitage. That night, a mouse nibbled at his loincloth and tore
it. The disciple had to get another one and the same thing happened
again. To get rid of the mouse, he decided to get a cat. But to
feed the cat, he needed milk and so he decided to buy a cow. To
keep the cow fed, he needed grass, and so he bought a field. To
till the field he needed help and so he married a wife. The wife
gave him children and to look after his children he needed servants
and a bigger house. Finally, he ended up with a mansion like the
ones you see in Newport, so that he could house his family and his
servants. Many years later, the Master returned. He was dumbfounded
by what he saw. He could not believe his eyes. When he finally met
the disciple, who now looked very different, he asked him, "What
is all this about? What has happened?" The disciple replied,
"Master, this is what you have done to me by putting me in
charge of the hermitage."
if Dominic would recognize us as his disciples were he to come back
to visit us today. Would Dominic, our Master, have the same experience
as the Guru? So, let us retrieve Dominic's spirit and his poverty
and mendicancy, and then we will be able to follow Jesus more closely
and live the challenge to holiness.
and Dominican challenge." "No amendments." "Let
us vote." "Voting is closed." "126 affirmative,
0 negative, 0 abstentions."