Monday, September 23, 2013

The Death of Their Son and Their Devoted Faith: You cannot serve both God and mammon.


"You cannot serve both God and mammon."

Jesus gives us this very clear, strong, and intense reality of the Spiritual Life. We cannot serve two masters. We will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.

How do we know if we are living our lives serving God or Mammon?

I've been trying to think about this for some time and examine my own heart as well because the truth is we can all fall prey to the idolatry of money.
Here's a simple way that I cam up with.

Say you get a Christmas bonus this year, and it's sizeable. Maybe it's $2,000 or $5,000 or $10,000... what's the first thing you think of? What does your heart want to do with it?

Do you think immediately of what you can buy with it? What you can reward yourself with? What you can get that you haven't been able to get? Do you think of saving it for a bigger savings account or investing it?

... seems like Mammon to me....

Or do you think of somehow or someway that you can use it in service to God? Do you think of a greater good? Do you consider it as a gift to be passed on and given to others? Do you see it as an opportunity to do some further good or bless someone else because you have been blessed?

...your heart is devoted to God and to others.

Maybe you're still a kid or a young adult and you get a card from your Grandparents with a $50 in it?

Your first thought may be running up to Best Buy or getting something from iTunes. Maybe you're upset because they didn't give you more?


Or you open it and think... "Wow, I'm so grateful they thought of me. God, what can I do with this?" Maybe your heart thinks right away of a cause at school or a friend that is down or of giving in some way to others. If your heart and mind immediately are grateful and turn to being generous with that gift... are aligned with God. 

Recently EWTN did an episode on some good friends of mine and is very well worth watching.  It was so good to watch their story again because I've come to know them more over the years and just continue to see how dedicated they are to God. 

Here's an excerpt from their story which you can find in full no their website

We remember New Year’s Eve, 1999 like it was yesterday. As the ball dropped on Times Square, we entered into a new Millennium. We talked about life and about our three wonderful children, Taylor, Bobby, and Francesca. We talked about our work, our marriage, and how blessed we were that everything was going so well in our lives. We thanked God for all that He had given us: healthy kids, a good job, a new home, and a future that looked bright. We talked about wanting to give back to others, though we weren't sure how. Before we knew it, winter was over and spring had arrived. It was May of 2000 and our lives were about to change forever. On Mother’s Day evening, May 14, 2000, we rushed our only son, Bobby, to the emergency room with a high fever. Though we knew something was wrong, we both expected to be home in a few hours to tuck Bobby into his bed and wake up the next morning to keep living our normal, blessed life. But we didn't come home until the next evening, and we did so without our son. Bobby died from an infection caused by bacterial meningitis at just three years old. Soon after Bobby’s death, we searched for comfort and direction. We desperately needed help. Although our world seemed to have stopped, the world that we lived in had continued to orbit at a much faster pace. Mark was expected to get back to work soon after Bobby’s death; Christi was supposed to care for our other children in the very home that Bobby used to run around and play in – his room now empty, his laundry not dirty, his toys lying in the same spot.

Before this happened Mark will admit that he wasn't exactly strong in his faith. He was focused on all the things guys are focused with. His wife would drag him by the arm to church and other religious events. Everything changed when Bobby died. 

There is one moment in particular that I find so moving. After he died the family members were each grieving in their own way. Mark because he was so caught up in his own grief didn't realize how much his wife Christie and their children were hurting. He remembers walking into their bedroom and seeing the closet door closed. As he walked up to the door he could hear his wife sobbing in the dark. He opened the door and let himself in to find her completely overwhelmed... he held her in his arms and she just said: "Mark, I can't do this anymore." 

It was then that he realized he needed God's help. He told her that God put them on this earth for a reason and it wasn't just to be happy, it was to serve a purpose. He knew that if they wanted to love and honor Bobby then they needed to love and honor each other because no one loved their son more than they did. 

Mark who had really not been a leader in the faith now was taking his family to adoration, to church, to monthly confession, and they began praying the rosary together as a family. 

You can see the difference. At this point now he was completely serving God and not mammon. 

The most striking line that he says is: "Father, I wish it wouldn't have happened this way." "I wish it didn't take the death of my son to bring me to faith." 

As Mark and Christi will tell you nothing is more difficult than losing their child. But they also have come to know that it doesn't have to be without meaning and purpose. Their entire family has been blessed because of Bobby's life and death. Their marriage is better than it's ever been, their children are really being raised with the eyes of faith, they are involved in their church, devoted to God, and now give their whole lives to helping others who are grieving the loss of a loved one. 

The truth is we all have to make a choice at some point of our lives. We need to choose whether to serve God or Mammon. We cannot serve both. And at some point the chips will fall, our lives will be rocked, and our perception of self-preservation, independence, and power will come crumbling down. 

So who do you serve: God or Mammon?

Often times we find ourselves more attached to mammon: wealth, power, success than we realize. 

If you are not totally devoted to God here are three practical ways:

1) Pray: Ask God to open your eyes and see. Go up to your church and make a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Ask your loved ones: "Am I too possessed by money?" 

2) Give: In some way give some of your money to the poor. If you found yourself thinking of yourself first to what you would do if you received a bonus, or cash, or won the lottery... consider giving some of what you have to the poor. The church has traditionally taught tithing. This is the practice of giving 10% of everything that we get to the poor. So if you get a $5,000 bonus, give 10% of that, give $500 to the poor. Consider giving to your church, to an organization, or even to someone directly that you know could use the help. 

3) Know: Get to know the poor. Take the opportunity of getting to know someone who is poorer than you. Maybe it's a neighbor or a coworker. Maybe it is signing up to help at a soup kitchen or shelter. Maybe it is going on a Mission Trip with your parish or church. Once you get to know the poor you will want to help them, you will want to give, and you will realize how blessed you are by God and desire to bless others with your wealth. 

The truth is we all have to make a choice. 

Which will you serve: God or Mammon?

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