Well here it is the weekend after Thanksgiving and the holiday season is in full swing. Oh how I remember the holiday traditions of my youth, the pepper praying at the mall, leaving the family Thanksgiving table to go spend the night outside some store to buy something that will break by the day after Christmas, the business of the season! Getting so deep in debt on stupid stuff that your home gets foreclosed on, you can’t buy memories like that.
Well those are not actually my memories but the ones that are happening today. Every year I try and tell myself that I will not get all upset with the materialistic people out there but each year it happens. It is so sad how we have replaced the beauty of the season of redemption with the season of not only keeping up the Jones’ but making sure your toys are bigger!
By all accounts millions of people went shopping on “black Friday.” I wonder how many of those people got themselves deeper in debt with their purchases. Do we even know what the word moderation means?
Today’s Gospel comes to us from St. Luke and the story of the rich young man. We have read this story before from another Gospel but it seems to fit very well today. The rich man asks Jesus what we much to follow Him. Jesus replies to keep the commandments and then lists them. The young man replies that he has done this, and Jesus tells him to go and sell all that he has and give to the poor, and the man goes away sad for he was very rich.
Okay all you Occupy people settle down, Jesus is NOT talking about redistribution of wealth here, he is talking about what is keeping us from following God. We approach God, and take His hand and follow Him but we cannot do that if our hands are full. We need to drop what we are holding before we can take His hand. What is keeping us from dropping what we are holding? In a word, PRIDE! Pride is the root of all other sins.
Now there is nothing wrong with having pride and taking pride in a job well done, but when the focus is on us and the job “I” have done then it becomes prideful. Pride is what led to the fall of our first parents, pride is what led to the flood, pride is what kept Moses out of the promise land, and pride is what lead to… you fill in the blank. Pride is when we think we know better than God what is good for us.
Last week in my sermon I said in our world today we have replaced the “we” with the “I” we have stopped thinking of the other and thinking about ourselves. Back to the pepper spray. The woman who pepper sprayed her fellow shoppers so she could get the item was not thinking of others, she was only thinking of herself. She replaced the “we” with the “I” and her pride took over.
We cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve God and our own pride! We need to crucify our pride every day and ask God to help us deal with this. Nothing good has ever come out of pride!
Let’s look at another aspect of pride in this story. Jesus tells the man to love God and love his neighbor. Pretty simple and a very good summation of the law, no this does not mean that the rest of them are gone. Not only can we not serve God when our hands are full, we cannot serve our neighbor when our hands are full! How can we help our neighbor up when we do not have an open hand to help them? Once again, the “I” over the “we”. It is not suggested that we do this, help our neighbor, we are commanded to do it!
Our world is spinning wildly out of control. All of us need to stop and take a long look at what we do and why we do it. We need to take a long look at our relationships and how we treat people and we need to take a look at our material possessions, do they control us? How can we hold all of this in our hands and be able to reach out and take God’s hand. You can’t! And if you think you can, that’s your pride plain and simple.