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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: October 20, 2018
By Ben Riley
“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easer for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mathew 19:21-24)
We live in a consumer society that tells us our worth and dignity comes not from being made in the image and likeness of God but by the things we own. There is a great temptation to live a life not only in the world, but of the world as well, and believe me, this temptation does not stop at the seminary or rectory door.
Discernment means prayerful consideration and is usually mentioned in connection with a religious vocation. As a seminarian I am constantly asking the Lord where he is calling and inviting me to enter into a deeper relationship with him, as I prepare to be a bridge leading others closer to him as well.
It is important that I recognize there is nothing inherently wrong with buying things for entertainment or enjoyment, as long as it is not to the detriment of my studies or denying my call to Christian charity.
Discernment, however, can also be a useful tool in considering where the Lord is leading us in everyday life. For me, I try to prayerfully consider how something I purchase will lead me closer or further away from my relationship with the Father.
If it is more difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, how much harder would it be to pass through the eye of that needle wearing a stuffed backpack?
The difficulty in discerning my ever-growing Amazon wish list is that I am very good at rationalizing my purchases. I might say to myself, “This movie will bring me into greater fraternity with my seminary brothers because we will watch it together.” or “This book will further my knowledge and understanding helping me in my future ministry.”
While these things may be true to some degree, I am mostly just making myself feel better about unnecessary purchases. Now, it is important that I recognize there is nothing inherently wrong with buying things for entertainment or enjoyment, as long as it is not to the detriment of my studies or denying my call to Christian charity.
However, there is always the danger of my becoming attached to the things I own. My best defense against starting down this slippery slope is spending more time with Jesus in prayer, in the Eucharist, in meditation, in the Divine Office.
As I identify more and more with my savior on the cross, I will be more and more filled with the sweet joy of him and earthly pleasures will pale in comparison. The only “stuff” we will have with us when we enter into God’s kingdom and appear for judgment is the treasure in our heart.
Ben Riley, a member of Christ the King Church in Little Rock, is a diocesan seminarian, attending St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. This article was originally published in Arkansas Catholic. Copyright Diocese of Little Rock. All rights reserved. This article may be copied or redistributed with acknowledgement and permission of the publisher.