Full Of Life On The Inside

A few weeks ago I was driving along a road through one of the wealthiest towns in Massachusetts, on my way to visit someone, when I noticed that the houses around me all looked like mansions. I saw a side street, and decided I’d take a little detour to check out the ginormous homes.

As I drove along, it was one amazing home after another, like a bunch of castles. Some of them even had their own street. You’d get to the end of the road and there’d be a turn-around at the end with a giant mansion. I look at those homes and I think, yet another place that I will never live in my life. And I thought to myself, all I want is one room, not the whole house, just one room! Of course I could never get anywhere near the homes, there are probably alarm systems, and maybe they’d release the hounds. Anyway, I was talking to myself because there was no one else to talk to: every one of the houses was completely empty inside. No sign of life.

A few days later, I drove to Lawrence, which is statistically the poorest city in the state of Massachusetts. I was invited to a gathering – the local Ecuadorian community was celebrating its novena to the Child Jesus leading up to Christmas, and I had been accompanying them every Saturday evening. I arrived to a run-down 3-family triple-decker, and the door was wide open. I climbed the stairs and walked into the room, and I was met by a blast of hot air in the middle of winter. There was a small apartment crammed filled with about 50 people seated in fold-up chairs, including a kitchen filled with 7 women preparing food for everyone. We went through all the parts of the novena: the host shares welcoming words, the prayers begin, Christmas carols, a reflection, the organizers speak, a collection is taken for the upcoming fiesta, and then the food is brought out with drinks. I ended up staying until late at night, talking, sharing stories, and making future plans with immigrant indigenous who had welcomed me like a brother.

And all of a sudden I thought of the homes I had seen a few days before. Huge and majestic, powerful and successful on the outside. But cold and empty on the inside. And the apartment I was in now was small and poor, simple and dilapidated on the outside.

But on the inside, it was warm and full of life.

If you want to live a life with power and success, you may get it here in the States. You may get an influential career, money, your own dream family. You may have fame and influence, in the public, the workplace, or in the church. You may end up living in a wonderful neighborhood. But you’ll have to get your happiness from those things themselves, because it will all leave you empty on the inside.

Jesus invites us to a life without power or success, without stability or influence or popularity. It is a life that, on the outside, is insignificant and poor, simple and dilapidated.

But on the inside?

Full of life.

Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God… But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (Lk 6)

4 thoughts on “Full Of Life On The Inside

  1. Thanks and praise for the spirited witness offered noting the contrast of those lost in the pursuit to acquire castles as compared to those whose interior spiritual castles are rich in Christ. In traversing our Advent path, may the many blessings of Christmastime ahead continue to serve as guide lighting the trail we follow and nurturing us, especially today for the wonderful feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe may it be greatly celebrated!


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