All or Nothing

I say that it is natural for the heart to love the universal being or itself, according to its allegiance, and it hardens itself against either as it chooses. You have rejected one and kept the other. Is it reason that makes you love yourself?” (Did I mention that he also invented the vacuum cleaner?)

Neither Christ nor Pascal claims that the whims of the heart reject reason, simply that the heart sees without necessarily having to systematically analyze things. The heart has its own reasons and in a sense reasons definitively and clearly. And, despite the attempts of past generations of so-called thinkers, God will never be reduced to intellectual reasoning, for the infinite may be scrutinized but never fully understood. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us, “believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.” The intellect alone will never suffice.

God, being aware of this, grants to all the gift of faith. A gift freely given, freely accepted and freely repudiated. It is an either/or, not a both/and, proposal. We cannot at once claim to have faith and reject God. As Pascal says, allegiance to one will create a hardness towards the other. You gotta love a good “all or nothing” proposition. I either love God or my bike. Christ or my hobby. The Holy Spirit or drugs. Have you ever met someone who would be more upset over a scratch on their car than on their kid? It is surprisingly easy to fall into the snare of fealty to worldly goods. After all, our acceptance and practice of faith is a free-will decision. God will not pop rivet Himself into our hearts. To embrace God and His life puts me second, to embrace worldly goods puts me in the place of creator, the most dangerous place I can be.

Which is why Christ carefully and simply states that our treasure must be an eternal, not a temporal one. Because we are weak. Because our sinful nature will seek comfort in things that we can see, touch, taste and feel. And once it tends in that direction, the heart will soon follow and God will be cast out — detritus after the hurricane.

We must take great care to ensure that our longing for things earthly never conflicts with our longing for things heavenly. Our hearts will, without fail, follow that treasure that we are certain to store up here on earth. So fear not if your car gets a scratch, for eventually it will rust and disintegrate. However, do all you can to avoid letting any slight defect mar your relationship with God. True, lasting, imperishable fulfillment can only come from that which is true, lasting and imperishable, i.e., God.

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

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