Rambling Thoughts on Psalm 49
It is my intention to not always quote chapter and verse from now on. Readers who are diligent enough to read these offerings are also very capable of looking up references in their own Bibles and ferreting out resources to find those references. This intention will probably vary from time to time, depending on the nature of what’s written.
That said -
There’s a thread in this Psalm which considers the end of the foolish who live to preserve this life and what they cling to in it. They may think they can do that, and perhaps even buy eternal life, but this is not how it works. Friendship with the world, says Christ, is to be the enemy of God.
Some who are worldly may even be morally honorable and ethical, and “churchy,” but do they know God? There is a commonality among the worldly - whether “naughty or nice”, and that is that they simply love the world. And as St. John reminds us, the whole world (world system?) is under the power of the evil one. This should cause us to sit up and take notice.
There may be big time lovers of the world, wealth, and power such as a Donald Trump and his ilk. Or one can be a small time lover of the world yet have none of it - always planning, wishing, dreaming, and unhappy that he might have this or that, but it never seems to show up. These dreamers (whom some so called churches encourage to “dream big”) are to be found by the millions, wishing their lives away, or alternatively, grabbing for the gusto.
It makes no difference, rich or poor, since where your heart is, there is your treasure, says Jesus.
The key to jumping ship from the world - if one so has it in his heart to desire it - is an utter surrender of the world ( and this life in it in fact) into the hands of the Lord. It is a matter of total relinquishment of all, a comital of everything to Him. No holding back. Not self effort, but comital with full surrender of self and the sin that accompanies us.
In particular our redemption and its accompanying salvation can only be grasped with the open hand of faith that lets go of self and all worldly desires, before Him. Self must be put on the cross, not indulged.
Even self reliance that we can be good enough before God to gain eternal life is a useless and futile pursuit. We cannot buy eternal life as we might the stuff of this world, nor is it earned. We can only offer ourself up to God in order to receive all that He has provided through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. His intention, as the old Christmas children’s song says, is to “fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.”
The wonder of it is that He died for all and in Him all died. (Here’s where I will offer a little boost and direct the reader to 2 Corinthians 5:14-20, where things get a little dicey as they challenge us with the non-linear nature of spiritual Christianity.) If all have died, then it follows that all are granted resurrection by Him, and grace leading to eternal life.
But that does not mean all will receive what has been provided. It is like being granted an 11th hour pardon from death row. Will we walk through that open door into freedom, or lag behind because we have gotten used to prison and actually prefer it?
What our Lord provides is to be “believed,” true, yet it must also be received. It is not earned. Everything pertaining to salvation and eternal life is received through a living faith, which is also a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is perceived, believed, and received.
And this is the reason that the Church, Liturgy, Word, and Sacraments are given to the entire body of Christ in Holy Tradition as the chief means for us to show up and receive the “spiritual prescription” that removes from us the works of the devil, brings remission of sin (like a fatal disease is put in remission!), and brings to life and holiness and eventual glory the sons and daughters of God. Out with the bad, in with the good! Praise to Christ Jesus!
We are also given the privilege of coming boldly before the throne of grace to receive what we need through personal prayer and the contemplation of the Scriptures. Father wants to hear from us and to impart His wisdom, just as He did with our Elder Brother Jesus when He walked this earth as one of us, and Father knows best! It is also wise to show up daily for this, to make it a number one priority.
This also does not discount by any means the circumstances in our life, arranged by our Heavenly Father, which bring us to the cross - which we are advised by our Lord to daily pick up so that we may be His disciples.
So much goes into our salvation - things seen and unseen, physical and non physical! Glory to God! All of life becomes perceived as a gift. That is where trust of Him comes in, even when life sometimes seems like coal in your stocking at Christmas.
But back to the lovers of the world. Jesus is very clear that it is well nigh impossible for the rich in this world (or in themselves!) to enter His Kingdom, let alone participate in it. He is also clear that whoever seeks to preserve his “life” will lose it, but whoever “loses his life” for the sake of Christ and His kingdom will find it. He forces no one against one's will.
He is likewise clear about our priorities. He says, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will be added unto us. An appropriate admonishment for those lapses into worry about the supply chain collapse!
Our Lord continually says, “Fear not!” He also promises the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor and Comforter, Whom He promises will lead us into all truth and bring to mind all that He has taught us - not only personally as we seek Him, but also amidst the “great cloud of witnesses” that is the Church Triumphant in heaven, as well as the Church Militant on earth - where His voice is most strongly upheld by way of Her saints, elders, fathers, and the prophets who still draw close to Him to make intercession for the sake of the entire Body. We must never forget that the Church is His Body, of which He is the Head, and the fullness of Him Who fills all in all. They are one and inseparable. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.
This all may seem paradoxical - because we have minds that have a long history of being imprisoned by the thinking of the world (which has long been under the power of the evil one). We are used to listening to the “experts” in the world, or to our own passions and desires. But Christ calls us to have our minds - the entirety of our consciousness - renewed so that we may be transformed according to the heavenly understandings, priorities, and patterns. It does not happen in self assigned isolation. Nor does it happen overnight.
Enough meanderings. Thank you, dear reader, for walking awhile with me on the Ancient Path at the Crossroad.
All glory to God, Who reveals His mind to us through Jesus Christ, and Who gives us His Holy Spirit! Amen.
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