October 1, 2008
Saint Thérese of Lisieux, virgin. Memorial
Luke 9: 57-62
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "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." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, as you approach Jerusalem, inspire in my heart the desire to accompany you faithfully. Help my faith so that my reason and will are fully utilized in truth, serenity and simplicity. Lord, help me understand that I am called to battle my sins so that I can become ever more like you. I hope in you and love you above all things.
Petition: Lord, let me be willing to lose everything for your sake.
1. Harsh Conditions
In reading about World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, we find no stories about bright sunshine, soft comforts or happy memories on the part of any of the soldiers, American or German. Today’s Gospel might be understood along those same lines. It continues the story of yesterday’s Gospel: Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem not for a picnic, but for war against the devil. Herein lies the logic of the extreme disciplines our Lord is imposing on his disciples. They need to understand that the cross is part of our road to victory with him.
2. Spiritual Detachment
Even before entering into the thick of battle, our Lord inserts a dose of reality into the hearts of his fans and admirers. “From now on, you may not have a place to lay your head comfortably!” This measure needs to be taken: Christ’s opposition will encourage hedonism and material comforts as its principal weapons. Jesus really doesn’t care whether or not we use pillows at night, but he is concerned if we relish excessively our material comforts. The only true necessity is to love Christ above all things and to be willing to suffer for him.
A young soldier battling the Nazis in the fields of Belgium could not have abandoned his post if a telegram arrived, saying: “Your father has open heart surgery tomorrow. Pray for him as we pray for you!” No matter how this news might have pained the soldier, it would have been impossible for him to catch a boat home. The same is true for Christ’s disciples. They face imminent war against evil as they progress toward Jerusalem. Jesus wants his closest disciples to be aware of how serious this campaign for the Kingdom really is. Are we ready? If our father dies, providence will most likely allow us to return home, but what about in other matters? Sometimes our faith requires true heroic acts of self-denial. For instance, if we accept a job with a health insurance company, we may have to reject the company’s birth control policies, which might in turn jeopardize our ability to receive any of the policy’s benefits. Am I prepared to live according to Christ’s teachings down to the final consequences?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, never let me be fearful in following you. Help me to love the fight and not my frequent falling. You know that I am weak, but I wish to be true to all of your demands. Give me the grace to persevere until death in my Catholic faith.
Resolution: In my work or study today, I will make an effort not to cut corners selfishly, but rather to fulfill my obligations faithfully whether or not I am being watched.
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