I have learned to be content with whatever I have. (Philippians 4:11b)I remember attaching a post-it to my computer back in the 90s. It read: "What you have is enough."
Fr. Jim Stickney, then rector of St Alban's, Albany, California, has that simple phrase up in his office. I had for a time served as transitional deacon then assisting priest at St Alban's and am grateful for his having taken me on. The reason his phrase was on my computer is that I was having trouble internalizing the sentiment.
I always have trouble internalizing that sentiment. I believe we call this a "growing edge."
One of my early sermons at St Cuddy's, in fact, included a confession that no matter how often I looked at those five words, I really, really wanted a computer with a whole gigabyte. (Hey, don't laugh, that was big back then. Damned whippersnappers.)
Our desire for more, always more, causes untold suffering--not merely mental anguish but human tragedy as people are exploited and oppressed for the sake of a consumer economy based not on sharing resources but on the principle that some must lose in order for others to win, some must lack in order for others to have.
Philippians is Paul's "happy" epistle, the one filled with rejoicing and very little chiding. We don't get the grumpy apostle here. And amid many wonderful passages we get this affirmation of being content, no matter what happens, no matter how much or how little he may have at the moment.
It is a radical critique of our consumerism, of our desiring, of our desperate quest for whatever we think may sate us, numb us, make us feel whole.
O God, teach me to appreciate the blessings you send and not to grasp. Fill me with your own Self that I may know true satisfaction and be freed from that emptiness which seeks that which cannot satisfy. Amen.
‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:20-24)
How fortuitous to look now at Jesus' prayer in the Fourth Gospel that speaks in those rhythmic Johannine repetitions that used to drive me crazy. Jesus prayers for our oneness with God and with each other in the mystery of his oneness with God.
"As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us."
Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.
You have made us for yourself
and our heart is restless
until it rests in you.
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.