September 19, 2011
“...and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have
will be taken away.” [Luke 8:18]
These words of Jesus sound almost like a threat. Clearly these words stand in contrast to the preceding phrase, that to anyone who has, more will be given. As this entire sentence is spoken, our first inclination is likely to hope that the first phrase applies to us: that more will be given us. On the contrary, we may hope that the latter phrase applies to anyone except us: that even what he seems to have will be taken away.
God the Holy Spirit leads Christians into the fullness of Truth. A single verse of Sacred Scripture can have several senses, contrasting with but not contradicting each other. Jesus is speaking of you as a Christian when He declares that even what [you seem] to have will be taken away. What is Jesus referring to? Jesus is making a promise to those who truly want to advance in their spiritual lives.
Even what [you seem] to have refers to everything in your life that is a vanity, a contrived good that in fact has no more substance that mist, or your shadow. The one who lives in this world and also for this world often seems to have much. Yet all of these “things” are in fact not truly his; he does not truly have them. In the end, or sooner, if he is blessed by God, they will be taken away. Jesus promises this to His followers.
But such possessions are not only material, though materials “goods” seem the most obvious example of what Jesus is talking about. Jesus’ words about what [you seem] to have also refers to immaterial possessions: things that we cling to interiorly. Grudges, desires, resentments, attachments: in reality, we do not actually possess any of these; in fact, they possess us. Spiritual poverty [if not material poverty] is a strong means to purification. Purification—by which such immaterial realities can be taken away—is a strong means to dwelling in God. And dwelling in God is nothing less than eternal life.
 John 16:13.