FAITH IN FOCUS: BETTER THAN LIFE ITSELF?
Psalm 62, used in our liturgy today, is a prayer of a person who desperately longs to know God and to feel God’s presence in their lives. In fact, without God they feel like dry, weary, waterless soil. And although they don’t always feel God close to them they sit and gaze at the sanctuary to sense God’s strength and glory.
We have so many distractions in our lives. Many of them are necessary: we have to work in order to be able to live; our lives with each other inevitably throw up problems and difficulties; and in all the process of getting and having we can end up missing the real point of why we’re here on earth. But it doesn’t matter how much we are considered successful by others, in our heart of hearts we know that we will always feel empty if we have not found a place for God in our lives.
Jeremiah says as much in our first reading. God is so important to him that he experiences a fire in his belly that he must tell people about even though he suffers ridicule. And Jesus goes even further in the gospel today. What’s the point of possessing the whole world, money, riches, status, power, if it means that you never enjoy the real purpose of life? He reminds us that the only way to enjoy life to the full is to renounce self, to put aside selfish interest, in order to follow him. In other words, if we let anything get between us and God then we become cut off from what can really satisfy our needs.
One of the lines of psalm 62 is quite extraordinary. It simply says, “Your love is better than life”. Better than life? The psalmist is saying that if our life is not centred on what is really important then it’s not worth having. If we have found God then we realise that our lives are very short indeed yet the only thing that ultimately matters is that we possess God for eternity.
The temptation is to live only half a life, to conform to what our world tells us living is really about. Yet with all its superficial glitter and gloss we know that this sort of shimmering existence can never meet our real needs and aspirations. And those who have found God’s love have no need of this tinsel. For, as the psalmist says, “Your love is better than life.” Makes you think, doesn’t it?