Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Be living sacrifices in the vocation God has called you too

"We must, each of us, be willing to sacrifice our own will, even at a heavy cost. There is no need to sacrifice one’s health or money or to undergo privations, penances, or extraordinary fasts. The sacrifice that is needed is the sacrifice of the will. Each of us must be equally prepared to preach or to cook, to teach or to sweep, to catechize or to pray, to supervise or to obey. Such an attitude shall obtain God’s blessing on us because then we shall be true, faithful disciples and servants.” - St. John Bosco

Gospel text (Mk 10:28-31): At that time Peter began to tell Jesus, «We have given up everything to follow you». Jesus answered, «Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you: even in the midst of persecution he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention: Many who now are first will be last, and the last, first».

The heart of love is sacrifice. Jesus was sacrificed on Calvary in the greatest act of love in history. Today, just like that landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard, the Lord is seeking disciples, followers and friends. His, is a universal call. A captivating offer, the Lord entrust us with! On one condition, though. One condition that may dishearten us: «For my sake and for the Gospel» you are to leave «house, brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands» (cf. Mk 10:29). This is not communism but a sharing in love which involves a permanent personal responsibility and stewardship over the gifts. God has given us the power to dispose of His gifts and their fruits; He does not do it only once or all at once. Neither can we make an absolute gift of ourselves to Him once and for all. It must be a constant part of our lives.

But, is there any compensation? Shall there be any reward? Shall we make any gain out of it? Peter, in the name of the Apostles, reminds the Master: «We have given up everything to follow you» (Mk 10:28), as if asking: what benefit shall we get?

The Lord's promise is very generous: «but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time (…) and in the age to come eternal life» (Mk 10:30). He cannot be surpassed as far as generosity. But He adds: «even in the midst of persecution». Jesus is very realistic and He does not want to deceive anybody. To be a disciple of his, if we are truly so, will bring us troubles and problems. However, Jesus considers persecutions and troubles a reward, for they help us to grow, if we accept and live through them as an opportunity to gain in maturity and responsibility. Whatever act of sacrifice makes us more like Jesus Christ who, by dying in the Cross, saves us.

We have always time to revise our life and get closer to Jesus Christ, especially during the times of Advent and Lent. Through prayer and the sacraments, these times and all times, we can find out whether we are amongst the disciples He is seeking, and decide which our answer must be to that call. Next to radical responses (such as those from the Apostles) there are others. For many, “to leave house, brothers or sisters, or father or mother…” will just mean whatever unables us to live deeply in Jesus' close friendship and, as a consequence, become his testimony before the world. And this is urgent, don't you think so?

A very wise priest once told me that he imagines standing under a waterfall and the water being God’s love and graces pouring down. We often hold umbrellas, for many reasons, which prevent us from becoming completely drenched. So pull those umbrellas away and rejoice in all the blessings God wishes to give you!

***Today is a gift. Live it like that. ****

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