Expectation vs. Reality
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
Expectation vs. Reality
Why does Jesus seem so focused on selling our possessions? He obsesses on it sometimes. It is hard to get through a few pages of the Gospel without reading at least something about poverty. Are we speaking about spiritual poverty? What does that even mean? “Sell your belongings and give alms.” Jesus is trying to isolate us from disappointment. Jesus wants to make sure that we do not get too hung up on material possessions, knowing that it can only end in heartbreak.
We all experience disappointment when our expectations do not match our reality.
Jesus does not want us to be disappointed. Nowadays, it is common for us to make a comparison between expectation and reality. When we buy something on Amazon, we expect the product to arrive to meet the description. To guard against disappointments when shopping online, we might read the reviews and check independent sites to make sure that it lives up to our expectations.
Beware of imitations
Every unhappiness on earth is a cheap imitation of true happiness that God has prepared for us. Fornication is a cheap copy of married love. Getting high is a cheap copy of true self-knowledge.
We are all dealing with expectations constantly. There are our expectations of others. Then there are our expectations of others. Finally, there are our expectations of ourselves. Whenever one of these expectations does not match reality, we feel tense and lean towards disappointment and even regret.
We all tend to compare constantly. We compare our athletic ability, our intelligence, and our social status. We hope to come up with an advantage in comparison with others. We should get away from the habit of constantly comparing since it leads to anxiety and disappointment.
Disappointments and regrets
Jesus warns us against getting too caught up in material possessions because he knows they can never fill our hearts the way we would like to believe that they can. Disappointment can sap the energy out of our hearts. That is why this is a dangerous and volatile emotion. Always be careful with disappointment and remind yourself of the good things in your life. I know a woman who used to have a knick-knack on the wall. There were these little beads that you could move across on a wire and the object read “Count your blessings.” This woman would often walk up to it and push the beads across, reciting the names of her husband and children. It gave her children a sense of security to know that their mother counted them as blessings.
Prepping for the Kingdom
With the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the rise of secularism, political belief systems based on social justice or personal identity have come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied. Whatever we call these movements — “social justice,” “wokeness,” “identity politics,” “intersectionality,” “successor ideology” — they claim to offer what religion provides. They provide people with an explanation for events and conditions in the world. They offer a sense of meaning, a purpose for living, and the feeling of belonging to a community. (Gómez, 2021)
These social movements that try to take the place of religion always end up leaving their followers in the lurch. They are essentially unsatisfying.
If we want to find the true meaning of our existence, we have to go back past the cheap imitations and find the glory of life that God has prepared for us.
“Don’t be afraid, little flock.” (Lk. 12:32) Jesus always knew that we would be facing this moment. He knew that WE would be facing this moment. Facing secularization, which is de-Christianization, is a challenging prospect for us as a society. Nevertheless, it is something that we can do if we trust in the goodness that God places in our hearts.
Jesus talks about getting our loins girded. The image seems a little lost on us, out of touch with our reality. “Get ready!” “Lock and load!” What is the phrase that gets you going? You can substitute it in to motivate yourself for the mission that is awaiting you.
The Christian story, in its simplest form, goes something like this: We are created in the image of God and called to a blessed life in union with him and with our neighbors. Human life has a God-given “telos,” an intention and direction. Through our sin, we are alienated from God and from one another, and we live in the shadow of our own death. By the mercy of God and his love for each of us, we are saved through the dying and rising of Jesus Christ. Jesus reconciles us to God and our neighbors give us the grace to be transformed in his image and calls us to follow him in faith, loving God and our neighbor, working to build his Kingdom on earth, all in the confident hope that we will have eternal life with him in the world to come. That’s the Christian story. And now more than ever, the Church and every Catholic need to know this story and proclaim it in all its beauty and truth. (Gómez, 2021)
To prepare yourself for the cultural war that is going on, it is important to read and discuss the topics in our society in the light of the Gospel. Read, study, and prepare yourself to give witness to the truth. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1P. 3:15)
Lewandoska, K. (n.d.). Expectations vs. reality: Dismantling the trap. Intelligent Change. https://www.intelligentchange.com/blogs/read/expectations-vs-reality
Gómez, J.H. (2021). Reflections on the Church and America’s new religions. LA Catholics. https://www.archbishopgomez.org/blog/reflections-on-the-church-and-americas-new-religions