Joshua Fields-Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus are the presenters of the successful Podcast The Minimalists. Earlier this year they were in Australia on a speaking tour. On 14th March 2018 they were on Radio 89.3FM and they talked about how we can clear the clutter and chaos to make way for a more meaningful life. They were asked what was their definition of minimalism? The answer was “Minimalism is a lifestyle. It is the thing that gets past the things so that we can make room for life’s most important things which turn out are not actually things at all. It goes beyond getting rid of the stuff and has a lot more to do with what we fill our life with once we clear the clutter.
They went on to talk about there being a connection between getting rid of the material clutter and getting rid of the emotional and spiritual clutter in our lives.
Last week I happened to turn on radio station 693AM and a woman was talking about how de-cluttering added greatly to the quality of her marriage.
It then occurred to me that what I had heard about de-cluttering had a lot to do with this week’s readings. I believe this week’s readings invite the question ‘what is my life’s focus?’
In the first reading the prophet Amos is confronted by “professional prophets” whose lives are corrupted and distracted by materialism. Instead of speaking prophetically they spoke for their pockets, their bank accounts and their stomachs. In doing so they had lost true focus for their lives. In contrast the prophet Amos was a shepherd who led a simple life whose only focus was to spread the Word of God. It seems that because Amos had this spirit of detachment, God felt that he could use him.
In today’s Gospel Jesus gives very clear instructions to his disciples about what to take and what not to take. Jesus knew the dangers of materialism and knew that it could lead to the disciples losing focus on their primary purpose in life, and that was to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God. There is a purpose to Jesus’ instructions. The disciples were asked to give up things so that they could take on what was most essential.
All of us are called to be the Lord’s disciples. This week’s readings ask us to critically reflect on the question what is the clutter that prevents me from wholeheartedly following what God is asking me to do? This clutter can be material, emotional or spiritual. Further questions that may be helpful in our deliberations are: Do the things I hold on to add value to my life? Do they serve a purpose? Do they spark joy? Am I overlooking what is essential? Surrendering is an attitude of the heart that would have us see Christ as the most important possession we have and to strive towards him ultimately being the only thing we really need to hold on to.