A Call to Simplicity in Lifestyle
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world.– 1 Jn 2:15
The present situation of the pandemic has led to reduced business, job losses and salary cuts. Many of us are now facing a crisis of having to survive with a lesser income than earlier. Monetary benefits are now less and this forces people into a mindset of budgeting and cost cutting. Living expenses are reduced drastically to a bare minimum for many a family and many an individual. In short, a change of lifestyle has become mandatory and is no longer an option for most people. Staying at home in lockdown has reduced expenses of unnecessary travel and commuting, holidaying, socializing, partying, shopping, eating at restaurants, etc. For better or worse, the norm is changing!
What is the Lord telling us through all of this? How can we become better disciples of Christ?
Fear of the virus has restricted movement of people. For example, the availability of maids for household chores and cooking, the luxury of meeting friends anytime, the ease of making a purchase without feeling the financial pinch, the joy of going to church or to a spiritual fellowship whenever we want, the pleasure of entertainment and eating out, etc. are all being taken for granted. Not known to many of us, these actually cause a block in the spiritual journey. It is clear that the Lord is teaching us about the virtue of ‘detachment’.
Detachment – A change for the better
Are our lives too comfortable? Do our attachments to comforts and facilities pull us away from a simple lifestyle which draws a soul closer to God? These present situations of discomfort have put many things into a right perspective. These are matters which lead to our purification, holiness and further spiritual growth!
“Those who do care nothing for the good things of the world have dominion over all of them.”– St. Teresa of Avila
When life runs smoothly, many issues which are considered as normal are actually indirectly and subtly harmful. In the regular flow of life, these get unnoticed and invariably cause a block to spiritual growth. However, when there is a shift into a zone of discomfort, a person becomes aware of the inner cravings of the heart. Here is a God-given opportunity to ask ourselves on an individual basis:
How can I become more like Jesus in the given situation?
What about the poor who are struggling to make ends meet? Are we so caught up in our own self centred worlds that we forget what the needs are of our less fortunate fellow human beings, who are also created by God and loved as much by Him?
How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? – 1 Jn 3:17
Here are some words of Jesus in the bible to help us understand what He may be wanting of us in this uncomfortable season of pandemic, and later on as well.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”– Matt 25:35, 40
“Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”– Lk 6:31-32
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”– Lk 9:23
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”– Mk 12:43-44
The Corona pandemic is teaching us that what really matters is not the external things of the world but rather something deep on a heart level. Is there an attitude of grumbling or one of gratitude? God does not give us what we want, but He provides us with what we need. Your sacrifice can benefit another. Adjusting in self denial, and being content to be without comforts lead to simplicity of lifestyle, less of vain pleasures, more compassion and generosity, deeper self awareness, more freedom of spirit, a deeper prayer life and a more intense intimacy with the Lord! What a treasure! “Less is more” becomes a reality! Let us be sensitive to the ways of the Lord and open our hearts to experience the wonderful redemptive outcome of this pandemic!
“Happiness is not found in the things around us. It is found in the secrecy of the soul. ”– St. Therese of Lisieux
A Caterpillar becomes a butterfly only by shedding off its old skin in the stages of its growth. Similarly, we too need to cast away and let go of many things – old ways of thinking, comforts in lifestyle, over spending, negative attitudes, indifference to the poor and needy, attitude of complaining, comparison with others, tendency to show off and flaunt possessions or achievements, insecurities, attachments, and everything negative. We need to pray for self control which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22) and clothe ourselves with His power (Lk 24:49) and thereby allow heavenly graces to fall on us! Jesus makes it possible!
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.– Rom 13:14
He must increase and I must decrease.– Jn 3:30
From our hearts, let’s pray this short prayer from the lyrics of a song:
More of You and less of me. Lord, I pray that there might be – More of You and less of me!