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Not of This World

Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”  John 18:36.

My reward is not in this world.

My ultimate goal is not of this world.

My hope is not in this world.

If they were, I would utilize every ounce of energy, all my strength, and every resource to protect them.

But, as it is, I am after a much greater reward.  I am hunting much better game.  So I am content to let the pleasures, benefits and comforts of this world slip away.  

I don’t claim any theological support for this notion.  But as I was praying the Scriptural Rosary this morning, I heard the Gospel conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate when Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world.  And as I listened, I heard the words Jesus said in a different light.

I heard, “I am not invested in this world, so why put enormous efforts in retaining its gains?”

I was recently traveling in west Africa.  As I’ve noted before, I am not always the greatest traveler especially in the transition days which have the highest potential for things going badly—those days of travel and adjustment to new surroundings.  In those times I am most vulnerable to fears and anxieties, and I’m particularly susceptible to what-if-itis, the inflammation of that part of the imagination that conjures up horrible hypotheticals.

I have to admit:  a major part of any fear of mine, especially fears of my earthly demise, is the question of legacy:  what if no one finds me or my body?  What if no one knows I died?  What if no one remembers me?  What if I am left rotting in a hole and no one knows where to find me?

In the past, when facing such fears, I have found great relief in prayer and particularly in praying to His Mother, Our Mother.  But on this last trip, I added a twist, a new attitude when praying:  I thought, “whatever happens to me, He has something much better for me.  If no one remembers me, He still holds me.  I live for Him.”

That’s not completely accurate.  I didn’t so much think these words as much as I held the attitude those words represent, a sense of faith and hope.  And when I added this twist to my prayers, I felt more than peace.  I felt joy.  I felt bolstered by the Spirit.

And so, when Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, I wonder if Pilate is taunting Jesus: “where are your loyal subjects now?  Who will come to rescue you?”

And when Jesus responds with “my kingdom is not here”, I wonder if He is encouraging us to say to our tormentors, “I don’t need assistance to keep my toehold on this world.  My reward will be greater in Heaven.”

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