There are many other priorities in life which we find ourselves easily placing above the call of a God centred life. “The desires of self-indulgence is always in opposition to the Spirit” (today’s readings in italics). Our ‘other priorities’ arise from these desires and they can distanced us from relying on God. But many of these ‘other priorities’ are indeed necessary for us to fulfil our vocations in this earthly life. Today’s readings invite us to focus on God as we plough our fields.
A God-centred life does not mean ignoring the needs of a crying child or our assignments at work. It is not exactly a call to literally put God first in everything as in to ignore a sick child to attend a weekly community meeting. It is a call “not to use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love”. A God-centred life puts the intention of love into everything we do. It is a self-giving as opposed to a self-indulgent life.
We are called to follow him. We are called into a life of giving; to allow love to flow through us to touch the lives of others. This is our mission: “your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God” with the life we live. This is the field we are summoned to enter with our ploughs. As we enter we receive the instruction, “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”.
We are urged to ‘focus’: to look straight, to be single-minded and free of ‘other priorities’. We are urged not to look back. Not because he wants us to “be fastened again to the yoke of slavery” but precisely “to be set free, so that we should remain free”. On this field, He gives us work. On this plough, we discover that this work is indeed the true meaning of our earthly journey. In today’s psalm, “You teach me the path of life, unbounded joy in your presence”.
Our path of life is not a lonely path of suffering. On the field of mission, ‘I’ am not the lone worker, the only one with a plough. Every one of us is given a plough; given an equal opportunity to discover this true meaning of life. We are called not only to work individually but to work collectively. We are housed in a community of disciples. But as individuals we are advised not to look back and cling to our past for we have been “set free”. Forget the regrets, they have been forgiven and look ahead and in a straight line we will experience a new life of unprecedented joy and fulfilment. Give the best we can and allow the Spirit to add up the sum of our individual ploughs.
In our collective ploughing as one community, we were blessed to unearth a gentleman who had been away from Church for 45 years. We were privileged instruments of the Spirit; for through us he found the mercy of God waiting, discovering that despite 45 long years, the Father had “unbelievingly” stood by waiting for him to return. That experience of faith was enough for him to grab his plough firmly, letting go of ‘other priorities’ and focus on his new path ahead. Touched by Love, he has centred his life on God, and in mission he has found the true meaning of his life, tearfully declaring in a public sharing of his return journey that from hereon there is, “No more turning back”.