I was struck, this morning, as I finished the office, to read these words from Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians in Rome, “The delights of this world and all its kingdoms will not profit me.  I would prefer to die in Jesus Christ than to rule over all the earth.”  If I remember correctly, these words were written while he was on his journey to Rome, under arrest, on his way to his death.  And they were written during a time when the Church defined its faith by its martyrs.  But I’m still struck, as he continues, “I seek him who died for us, I desire him who rose for us.  I am in the throes of being born again.”

Theoretically, all Christians would want to say something similar to this.  But how many of us in this country today think this way?  I suspect that most of us, myself included, probably spend at least as much time and energy worrying about how to make ends meet in this world as we do shaping our lives so that it is not we ourselves who live, but Christ who lives in us, so that our lives are truly born of God.

Ignatius councils us, “Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips and the world in your hearts.  Give no place to envy among you.”  And I think these are words that I still need to hear as addressed to me.  I believe that God wants (and will give me) joy and good things in my life in this world.  But we live in a culture where we are always striving for more, and I often have overlooked all that is good in my life.  Living on less (and feeling well provided for anyway) has helped me focus the blessings I have in my life.  Maybe it’s even helped me let go of some envy of those who have more — which I have done at times.

Great wealth and luxury are not gospel values.  Finding joy and thanksgiving in what you have been given are gospel values.  So is changing your life so that, more and more, it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And I do believe that in living this way, I find my true self and my true happiness.  And my life, too, is in the process of being born again.

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