My big sister Maureen, the bad witch, and I shared a bathroom in our Bronx apartment. She was always reminding me, "Terry, put the toilet seat down after you use the toilet." I most often forgot, because I was self-absorbed, living in my own private world. One day, Maureen brought me into the bathroom and pointed to the raised toilet seat. "You forgot to put the seat down. Next time, I am going to cast a spell upon the seat and it will disappear. Then I will have evil spirits throw you down the open toilet and flush you into the sewer where the snakes, rats and spiders live. You will be forgotten forever." I hated snakes, rats and spiders. Fear entered my heart. Could the witch do such a thing?
I tried to remember to put the seat down thereafter, but to no avail. Bad habits are hard to break. One day I entered the bathroom and the seat was gone. Suddenly I feared for evil spirits to come and flush me away to oblivion. I ran down the hall to my Mom. "Mom," I panted breathlessly, "Maureen cast a spell on the toilet seat and it disappeared and she said evil spirits would come to flush me down the toilet to the sewer and I would be forgotten forever!" Mom looked at me and after a moment said, "Terry, I am your mother. I will never forget you." Well, I was expecting something more proactive from Mom, but then again she was a girl too and probably had this toilet seat issue out with Dad when they first got married.
But I could have avoided evil spirits and disappearing toilet seats by living more in the Kingdom of God. This means that I act with a sense that I live in community, in a world with other people. To live with others but to act as if I am alone in my own little world, is to live outside the Kingdom. Jesus invites us not to pay so much attention to ourselves, that we ignore other people around us, even if we live alone. We still live in a world that includes other people who have interests other than our own.
Jesus is not telling us to ignore our needs for food, clothing and shelter. He wants us to keep a balance between what we need and what others may need. We can become so focused upon ourselves that we ignore other people altogether. That certainly would be an evil spirit in the world. Jesus is trying to help us to see that I cannot be my own master doing as I please. We are the body of Christ. Maureen was trying to teach this to me. She was not such a bad witch after all.