"Not so easily was I remade as made. He spoke and all things were made. But while he made me simply and at once by a word, he has in the remaking of me said many words, and worked wonders and suffered much." (St. Bernard)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Salvador and the Kingdom of God

Through Salvador, I encountered the Kingdom of God.

Today, being our ‘free day’, I went to Tena, the closest big city, to get some personal things done. I had breakfast at this café to get some food that reminds me of home.

While I was there, I began reading this book about Matthew’s gospel. It is in Spanish, which, praise God, I am understanding better. Immediately, the book began speaking about why Jesus came to us. “To fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15), which in this context in Matthew means: doing the will of God, submitting to the plan of God for the salvation of all. We are considered just and practice ourselves this righteousness when we allow and participate with God to realize His plan in us.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Mt.5:6)

After finishing my breakfast, I saw an older man I know from Ahuano walking by the restaurant. He is 75 years old and his name is Salvador… awesome name! I had to go talk with him. After some time talking outside, I asked him if he had eaten breakfast. He said: “No.” I invited him to eat a late breakfast, and I would pay. He accepted. We talked for another hour.

Salvador does not have a lot of money. Usually, he has none at all. His grand-daughter Josselyn, who is about 9 years old, lives with him. Both her parents died a few years ago. They receive no help from Salvador’s other children. They typically have no food in the house. With his age, and bad legs, he cannot work for money. He cannot work in the field to farm the products they need to eat. I asked: “What do you do for food?” He said: “When there is food, we eat. When there is none, we don’t. If there is no food, we drink a cup of chicha, and that is enough.”

I was so surprised with his lack of worry about not having food. Not once did he complain. Not once did he curse or murmur against God. Every Sunday, I see him at mass with his grand-daughter. He is faithful to our Lord, and is devoted to our Blessed Mother. When you talk with him, you encounter peace because he is joyful and content.

I must admit I have never experienced this kind of poverty. I have never been in this type of situation where I must depend totally on God to provide for me the ‘daily bread’. Unfortunately, I often find myself thinking about food. For instance, I will be talking to someone and my attention will stray from them and to the food I plan to have for dinner. Why is it that when we have things, we just want more of them? We are seeking to fill a hole, in a vain attempt to satisfy ourselves, and all the while, the hole is getting bigger. Why do I worry about not having the things which I already have? Do we realize that we can become enslaved by the things which we own? St. Teresa of Avila said in The Way of Perfection: “It is when I possess least that I have the fewest worries and the Lord knows… I am more afflicted when there is excess of anything than when there is lack of it… I have noticed that He provides for us immediately.”

Often, we seek what the world offers to alleviate merely the symptoms of our disease. This is our disease: a desire for the things that we do not want and that do not provide. Jesus offers more than just alleviating the symptoms. He cures the disease: destroying its very source. He gives us the way to be cured:

“…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt. 6:33)

For me, I have so much more to learn. I am seeking the wisdom of God, the righteousness of God. I desire to be filled only by Him, not by the world. God blessed me with this encounter with Salvador, to understand His love for us, that it goes deeper than a mere morsel of food can satisfy. And all things of this world give only an instant of satisfaction before we are back yearning for more. Everything God has blessed us with here on earth are signs pointing to the One who truly and completely satisfies.

So, if we are hungry, or thirsty, or in need of clothing, first seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and ‘these things will be given you’ and you ‘will be satisfied’. Therefore, why worry. If we truly believe he is our Father, and seek first His kingdom and His will, He will give us the greatest gift of all: everlasting life and eternal satisfaction. Salvador is cured! Despite his infirmities and age, and the lack of food, and the lack of support from his family, he is healed. And the things that have been given to him, are not an abundance of food and riches. But, what he has received is exactly what he needs, for He is already living in the Kingdom of God.