The things that matter least

Normally, a Big East quarterfinal game would have filled Madison Square Garden. Officials played this tournament without fans in early March and then canceled the NCAA tournament and all other collegiate spring sporting events. (Sarah Stier photo)

Once, as Jesus was teaching, an unidentified voice shouted, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me!”

The seventh in a series of daily posts.

Jesus turned down the opportunity to settle the dispute, instead telling a story of a rich man who was totally focused on himself. “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years,” the man said to himself. “Take life easy! Eat, drink and be merry!”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool!’ This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (See Luke 12:13-20.)

With all the talk of pandemic and death swirling around us, have you noticed how quickly we’ve forgotten the things that don’t matter?

The things that matter most? Life certainly makes the short list. Family is a definite. Faith is a given. Faith, family and life. That’s about it.

The tiny inheritance the two brothers were arguing about when Jesus was teaching? If tonight’s your night, you’ll not worry about your bank balance! That’s one of the countless things that will fall under the heading, “The things that matter least.”

A few weeks ago, we were passionate about a great number of things that were of “ultimate” importance. We weren’t that far removed from an impeachment trial that seemed critically important. Election campaigns were dominating the airwaves. Basketball teams were gearing up for championship tournaments. Golfing fans had the Masters tournament circled on their calendars. The stock market looked as if it would never end its winning streak.

Then an invisible enemy took all of those all-consuming passions and threw them in the trash.

We’re back to faith, family and life.

The change in society has been profound.

Have you noticed how the guns of war have gone silent in the past few weeks? In the Middle East, they’re calling it the “Coronavirus Peace.” With a common enemy to fight, ancient enemies are laying down their arms against one another and working together. Even terrorism seems to have taken a sabbatical.

With fewer cars, planes and trains racing from here to there, the air is cleaner. The earth itself seems to be breathing deeply, taking a long-needed Sabbath.

The Supreme Court is in seclusion. Protestors once so angry about current issues have put the signs down and gone home. Political parties in world governments are working together. National leaders are being humbled. 

We’ve long known families are too busy. For the first time in forever, parents and children are spending a lot of time together at home. Spouses are reconnecting. People near large parks or open areas are reconnecting with the joy of a long walk outside.

Church attendance was optional for most Christians just two Sundays ago. Since there was always “next Sunday,” there wasn’t an overwhelming desire to make it to church this Sunday. Now corporate worship is not an option at all just when we’d desperately like to be in church together.

There’s a verse in the Psalms that can grab your attention if you’re not too busy to read it. Well, welcome to a day when we’re not as busy as we used to be!

Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

In no time at all, the world has come to stillness. All the things that matter least have taken their rightful place behind all the things … that matter most.