You and I, we have an exterior, but also an interior. This seems to be the key to Sunday’s Gospel.
Our exterior is what we often use to interact in a daily fashion with everything and everybody else, without thinking about it. This is our outside. Acting from it, we may come across to others as, e.g., decisive or fun-loving or threatening or shy or easy to talk to, or who knows what else. It is how we make our way through the day in a busy world, or even in a non-busy time (e.g., watching TV, drinking beer, staying busy all the time, and so on).
We can find clues to our interior self in the calm we find at a quiet lake or at the sight of a budding tree or in the company of a much-loved friend. Stillness then emerges, a hushed sense of well-being. This deep interior is where feelings and thoughts can be themselves, can be just as happy or as sad as they want to be.
The Spirit of God chooses to dwell in these interior depths. Not because there is something wrong with our outside, but because the deep interior is where we are made in God’s image. There we are quietly open, desiring to receive real love from other people and to give it. And, if we knew it, from and to God.
The exterior sometimes lives in storm, sometimes in sunlight. It is able at times to out-shout the inside! I want food. I want revenge. I am grouchy. I got three hours of sleep last night, gimmee rest. Gimmee pleasure. Gimmee triumph. I want everything. Gimmee!
Fine, but what if you get all these demands? What if you gain the whole world but in the process lose your very self?
You and I do get caught up in gaining external things. For instance, in Luke 12:15-24 Jesus points out this tendency. He says something like this:
You have built still another barn to hold your riches! But this very night God will ask your very soul of you, and what will you take with you? Your riches? No. The way you look? No. Your interior self is all that can come with you when you die. God dwells in that inner self, in the quiet center of your being.
Those who lead others away from their interior self are not well-received in today’s Gospel. Jesus says how he might react to anyone who teaches children in such a way.
Whoever causes sin in one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. Gospel
Maybe you were taught in this way. But do you really want now to ignore such a crucial part of yourself, while there is still time to find it? Why not let your inner self have a chance, as Jesus suggests.
Spend some time in quiet each day. Have the heart to give a cup of water to someone thirsty. Be alert for the Spirit within other persons and respect them for it, even if you do not like them.
You will be following Sunday’s Gospel!