"This is Jesus' great promise: to give life in abundance. Everyone wants life in abundance. But what is it? What does life consist in? Where do we find it? When and how do we have life in abundance? When we live like the prodigal son, squandering the whole portion God has given us? When we live like the thief and the robber, taking everything for ourselves alone? Jesus promises that he will show the sheep where to find 'pasture' - something they can live on - and that he will truly lead them to the springs of life." "Jesus of Nazareth", page 278, Pope Benedict XVI
A friend and I have been discussing Life, via email.
Life in boxes. Living an authentic life. Trying to be like others. Finding life in abundance, finding the 'face of the Lord'.
We have discussed marriage - what is the ideal marriage and does it matter if our own marriages do not reflect the ideal often promulgated by some Catholic writers.
Do we have to reach an ideal? Maybe each partner doing their own thing, being different, then sharing these differences and coming together sometimes, being separate and yet joined, is what works.
We have talked about being consumers.
There is a push in some Chistian circles for a simple life. Recently, for a handmade Christmas - giving only handmade gifts.
This is admirable.
However, a simple life is not always that simple. I know, I've been there and for me it was yet another stifling box .
For others, this simple life is freedom.
We have been relatively poor. We have been comfortable with regard to finances. In both stations of life, we have enjoyed what we owned, and we have shared these ~ our homes, our food, our possessions, our life ~ with others.
It has been the enjoying and the sharing that counted. Not the possessions or lack thereof, not the simple life or the life of more consumerism .
In our discussions, my friend has expressed her concern over not living a simple enough life. Over enjoying having, enjoying giving and using Christmas presents.
As many of you know, we live in a Franciscan parish. These friars like and enjoy and use technology, things, books, music, ~ and so on ~ but the things don't own them.
I think that is a good example.
We , our family, have a lot of things, gave a lot of things at Christmas, enjoy these things ourselves and also with others and are pretty much consumers without being consumed - we are not ruled by things.
By some standards,we have a lot.
It is relative. And what matters most is where it is that we have our hearts, our treasure. . We do not need to compare ourselves to others, but should, instead, follow Christ and his Church and look at ourselves and at our souls.
"It is ony in God and in light of God that we rightly know man. Any 'self-knowledge' that restricts man to the empirical and the tangible fails to engage with man's true depth. Man knows himself only when he learns to understand himself in light of God and he knows others only when he sees the mystery of God in them" Ibid. page 283
( By the way, the above are some of our Christmas pics . My dh gave me an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.... I think our pictures show part of our "life in abundance". :-) )