This morning, Mark 4:19 was one of those verses that jumped out of the Bible, sat on top of my head, and beat me with a stick. Have you ever had one of those? You’re reading along, minding your own Catholic business, and smack! St. Mark wakes you up with a one-liner between the eyes.
“But the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things, chokes off the word and makes it fruitless.”
Maybe I shouldn’t read verses like that after my morning fill of the news, with war in Libya, long term unemployment, childhood obesity, tropical storms, earthquakes, and on and on and on. The world’s calamities resonate in my own life, as my employer strugglles with declining revenues, and my adult child still looks for a job to help support his wife and infant son. The worries of the world, both global and in my own little space, surely do threaten to choke off the word of God. It just seems like the world is trundling off to Hell in the proverbial handcart, doesn’t it?
On second thought, maybe St. Mark’s timing is perfect. After all, Jesus makes it clear that our earthly life will be filled with challenges. God did promise us a rose garden; we just allow ourselves to forget that rose gardens have more thorns than blossoms. Our physical existence is meant to be hard. Why? I don’t know, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s the same reason God made green beans and exercise; you may not like it, but it’s good for you.
Jesus is warning us in Mark’s gospel that it’s easy to lose sight of Heaven when we try to turn Earth into paradise. We enslave ourselves to earthly gods of money and physical “luxury,” (most of which are fattening or otherwise bad for us anyway) and we forget why we’re here in the first place. We were created to love God through each other. To chop down the thorn bushes surrounding us, our family, and our friends. To bear fruit “30- 60- or a hundredfold.” To be joyful about what matters, not to be fretful about what doesn’t.
I hope you have a great and joyous day. Smile.