Monday, July 2, 2012

“You can sacrifice and not love. But you cannot love and not sacrifice.”

Remember that when you leave this earth you can take nothing of what you have received, but only what you have a given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage. - Saint Francis of Assisi

 (Gospel Text: Mt 8:18-22)
When Jesus saw a crowd around him,
he gave orders to cross to the other shore.
A scribe approached and said to him,
"Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
Another of his disciples said to him,
"Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But Jesus answered him, "Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead."

In today’s Gospel, a scribe approaches Jesus and states, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” In a turnabout way, Jesus explains to the scribe that he is homeless; my life isn’t one of luxury, Jesus seems to say. The conversation is so brief that it’s difficult to tell if Jesus is testing the scribe or just informing him that a life of faith isn’t always easy. In fact, we never officially find out if the scribe continues with Jesus and the disciples because another disciple intercedes and asks permission to bury his father before leaving on the journey. On the surface level, Jesus’ response seems cold-hearted and inconsiderate: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” After re-reading and reflecting on Jesus’ response, I realized that what comes across as a cold-hearted demand is actually Jesus calling the disciple to leave the past behind him and move forward in life. He doesn’t want the disciple to half-heartedly follow him with one foot in the door and the other out. Instead, he calls him to sacrifice what it is that is holding him back and move forward. Jesus calls the disciple and us all: Let go of what is holding you back, and follow me.
Although I had to search a little bit more to find meaning in today’s readings, they provided me with a lesson that I needed to hear: a life of faith isn’t always easy, and it always requires sacrifice but if we allow ourselves to be passionate about living lives of faith, we will easily be able to let go of what holds us back.

Follow me» (Mt 8:22), says today's Gospel. And St. Gregory the Great reminds us: «Let temporal things be used, while keeping eternal realities in our desire; let earthly things be utilized for our trek, while desiring the eternal ones for the end of our journey». This is a good criterion to examine whether we are properly following Jesus.

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