By Joe Babendreier
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This world — even at its best — will never be good enough for someone who follows Christ.

As St Paul wrote in First Thessalonians and again in the Letter to the Romans: we are “now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the Retribution which is coming … The night is almost over. It will be daylight soon!”

Aware that our Lord’s return might happen any day, some Christians in the early Church chose to live out in the desert, beginning with Saint Anthony of Alexandria 1700 years ago. They offer the rest of us a reminder of those words in the Letter to the Hebrews: “There is no permanent city for us in this life. We look for one in the world to come.”

Our true homeland is heaven. Even so, did you ever notice how Jesus insisted that he needs disciples ready to live in the middle of the world?

At the Last Supper, when he was praying to his heavenly Father, he said: “I am not asking you to remove them from the world but to protect them from the Evil One.”

Similarly, St Paul wrote in First Corinthians: “In my [previous] letter, I wrote to you that you should have nothing to do with people living immoral lives. I was not including everybody in this present world who is sexually immoral, or everybody who is greedy, or dishonest or worships false gods — that would mean you would have to cut yourselves off completely from the world.


“In fact, what I meant was that you were not to have anything to do with anyone going by the name of brother who is sexually immoral, or is greedy, or worships false gods, or is a slanderer or a drunkard or dishonest; never even have a meal with anybody of that kind.”

Nothing in this world can satisfy our deepest desires. Perfect happiness will come with resurrection, when Christ conquers death. Then, as St Paul said, “everything will be subjected to him … so that God may be all in all.” In the meantime, Christians ought to love this world, if only because this is where God wants us to live.

All the good things God has created can lead us to him. One of the saints has written: “Your ordinary contact with God takes place where you find your neighbours, your yearnings, your work and your affections.

There, you have your daily encounter with Christ. It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all people. We are called to discover the invisible God in the most visible and material things.”