Success in God’s Eyes
A while back a friend and I were reminiscing about our time at the University of Notre Dame when we were working on our Masters of Arts degrees in Theology. We prided ourselves in being able to grasp the theological depths of Karl Rahner . There was still a certain buzz from having sat in classes taught by professors like Fr. Raymond Brown and Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller. Our degrees gave us a feeling of having reached success in our field of study.
It is with honesty that I admit I get caught up in the trappings of success. We define success by achievements and acquisitions. We achieve advanced degrees from world renowned institutions and assume positions of power. We acquire fancy cars, luxurious homes, and so many belongings we have to rent storage sites to hold it all. In our society these are the signs of having attained success.
As I lead groups on tours at the Solanus Casey Center and round the corner through the Hall of Saints, I can’t help but be thrown back by an alternative path for success. There, thrust in my face are the Pewabic mosaics hanging on the walls depicting the Corporal Works of Mercy. Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Give shelter to the homeless. Visit the sick and the imprisoned. Bury the dead. Each Corporal Works of Mercy captures what Jesus stated in Matthew’s Gospel as the works that matter to God. If you want to be successful and powerful in God’s Kingdom, it is not the achievement of degrees and powerful positions. Having glamorous living arrangements and sports cars doesn’t give you an upper hand.
To the contrary, Jesus clearly points his followers to simple interactions with people as the hallmark of living a successful life. Jesus is quite clear that it is our care for our brothers and sisters that determine our ranking. Each time we encounter someone in need and we extend ourselves for their betterment, we are living out Jesus’ vision of success.
Fr. Solanus did this over and over again. People who came to the door of the monastery needing a meal or cup of water were received and cared for. Simple kindness. Everyone can do this.
Success in God’s eyes has nothing to do with titles, advanced degrees or positions of fame and power. Success in God’s eyes simply stated by Jesus is “how did you treat the least of your brothers and sisters,” because at the heart of everything, love is what matters most to God.
Hospitality Coordinator at Solanus Casey Center