Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Detachment properly understood means freedom

Don't aim at success - the more you aim and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued, it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.” - Viktor Frankl (Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor)

Gospel text (Lk 14,25-33): One day, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, He turned and said to them, «If you come to me, without being ready to give up your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not follow me carrying his own cross cannot be my disciple.

»Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you: ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’. And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become my disciple if he doesn't give up everything he has».

The Gospel today asks us all a very serious question. What is the cost of discipleship? Do we calculate the cost before signing up? For Luke's community, the cost of discipleship is your entire life. Luke is calling forth a seriousness that you can't just dip your toe in the water, testing it to see if you may want a little more. Jesus lists three different situations: family, possessions and of course the cross. He clearly states that discipleship means a new relationship with each of these. For most of us, giving up our entire life is not something we are willing to do. We start with one percent or even three percent. For Luke, you can't start small. You calculate the cost beforehand. It is either all or nothing. You know what it is going to cost you going in. Yet the great surprise that we have never calculated into the equation is the Paschal Mystery. There is something about dying and rising that suddenly we begin doing the things we previously didn't want to do and now there is a whole lot of joy in it. St Paul explains in his letter to the Philippians, "For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work." (Phil 2:13) Luke's experience tells him that the joy he is receiving is not because he did good. It's not about reward.

Through dying and rising Christ dwells within us, and we are eternally different.

When I was a child, my mom would use rewards to get me to do the things I didn't want to do. Now as I get older, I see how God, for his good purpose, works in us to both desire the good and to work for it. And suddenly the surrender of my whole life is a lot easier than trying to hold on to a percentage of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment