Monday, October 19, 2009

Prosperity Gospel

Daily Meditations for Catholics October 19, 2009
Luke 12 : 13 – 21

A man appeals to Jesus for justice against a brother who isn't sharing with him, but Jesus doesn't intervene. Instead, he cautions the questioner against the poison of greed, telling a story about a barn – building fool who “stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” ( Luke 12 : 21 )

The first North American martyrs, whose feast we celebrate today
( amongst other anniversaries – RDF ), are great examples of men who were “rich in what matters to God. “ They gave up privilege, comfort, and even life's basic necessities in order to answer God's call to spread his love in a new land .

As a young seminarian, John de Brebeuf was so sickly that his program of studies had to be modified, but he still went to Canada to preach the gospel to the Huron nation . In order to reach them, he made a six-hundred-mile canoe trip on a river with treacherous rapids . During his first stay, the Hurons were so suspicious that not one person converted . But he persisted over numerous visits that slowly bore fruit .

Later, he and a fellow missionary were captured by the Iroquois, who slowly tortured them to death . Their tormentors so admired the way they continued to preach and pray even as they were dying that after killing Brebeuf, some of the Iroquois drank Brebeuf's blood in the hopes of ingesting his courage .

Isaac Jogues left a fine position teaching literature in France in order to go to North America . He was captured by another Iroquois tribe, who mutilated him by burning, cutting, and chewing off his fingers before he was unexpectedly rescued by some Dutch soldiers . Grateful to God for his rescue, Jogues could have stayed safe in France, but he lost no time in returning to the Hurons . Not long after his arrival, he was tomahawked .

Where do your riches lie ? The only treasures any of us can count on keeping for eternity are the ones we have given up for love God and his children . It makes no sense to store up our talents and gifts . No one would benefit from that . So be generous ! Give your time and resources to the Lord ! The more you give away, the more he fills you with the treasures of his life, his love, and his blessings .

“ Jesus, you are my only treasure . I am awed by the heroism of your martyrs . Make me single-hearted for you, just as they were . “

The destination of the pilgrimage I went on in August was Martyr's Shrine, built to honor the North American Martyrs - Brebeuf and the others.
As well, beware of the “prosperity gospel” that is common today. It is the belief that God blesses his faithful with prosperity. This can be true, living in grace, but the corollary is not : God punishes with poverty. I find I am closer in my relationships when I have fewer possessions, as I am not distracted with the mental clutter of maintaining what I “own” . The missionaries to the Hurons had very little to their name, to the point of impoverishment and yet they succeeded in their goal : the gospel was established amongst the native people of North America . Sure the Hurons were scattered but they were like seeds sown in the wind and took root throughout North America, even to Oklahoma, the final reserve of the natives in the United States .
I have fewer possessions than before, but this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I “ make one heap of all my winnings, and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss, and lose and start again at my beginnings, and never breath a word of what I've lost . “ ( quote from the poem If by Rudyard Kipling ) I have completed more minutes of animation this year than ever before, and all I've completed has been screened before a live audience in a commercial theatre's open screening. I consider that to be my earthly treasure and any influence it has is my wealth stored up in heaven .

Happy 19th, God Bless .
R David Foster – Monday, October 19th, 2009

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