I've taken up again my dear friend, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' (RIP) last book American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile. I was sitting in the sun and quiet of my cottage enjoying a few hours of relaxation when my attention was captured by an ad from the radio playing in the background. It was one of the ubiquitous jingles promoting a national lottery announcing some mind-blowing prize for an upcoming draw. The conjunction of these two thoughts (RJN's discourse on what it means to be an exile; thoughts of fancy about what I would do if I won such an obscene amount of money) led me to ask myself whether there was ENOUGH wealth and power to satisfy that human innate desire for wanting 'more'.
One might think of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett who have given away the majority of their money in pursuit of causes such as the elimination of malaria, the amelioration of poverty. Yet it is pertinent to note that they still kept to themselves sufficient funds to ensure that they and their progeny will never lack for anything they desire. Further, the funds that they have given away are still being spent in accordance with their direction as it is controlled by the 'Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation'. I appreciate the generosity of their actions, but it is not entirely altruistic nor complete.
RJN connects this innate human desire for 'more' to the thoughts of St. Augustine in his famous City of God in which he speaks of Christians being 'dual citizens' of both 'Babylon' and the 'New Jerusalem'. His famous quote about our hearts being 'restless' until they rest with God is Augustine's answer to this question. Only if we surrender our will to the sovereignty of Christ as Lord and Savior (at least for Christians) can true peace and happiness be found. Neuhaus points out that this 'dual citizenship' is our true state of being. Christians are called to be 'in the world' but not 'of the world' as our focus remains fixed on that eternal city in which we hope to stay when Christ returns in glory.
So, how did I respond to all of these thoughts? I now have one ticket for the upcoming mega-prize in my pocket and a prayer in my heart that I would not permit such a prize cause me to take my eyes off the ultimate goal of the New Jerusalem should that ticket I hold bring me such abundance. God's promise gives me more comfort of soul than could possibly come my way, no matter how much money I won.
What would you do if you held the winning ticket? Would it be a boon or bust in helping live faithfully as a citizen of the world that is and the world to come?
Wouldn't it at least be neat to have the opportunity to find out?