This is real conflict. There is this constant, nagging call to serve God and to give more time to the Church. Often we turn a deaf ear. Because there is so much that needs achieving in career and family life. Young adults are conflicted if they should give the best years of their life away instead of travelling the world, building up on material comforts and tasting the sweetness of this worldly life.
What is life’s end game? What is our belief? Is happiness found in a barn full of accumulated wealth? Or do we accept today’s second reading that “when we were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized in his death, so we too might live a new life”. For most of us we would inquire about the possibility of having both and this becomes a simmering tension of our everyday life.
With God there isn’t a conflict. He wants true happiness for every one of us. Yes even happiness of this world, happiness in daily life. He shows us the way, “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow my footsteps is not worthy of me”. Oh, quite the opposite of what I desire.
Taking up our cross is not always choosing the worst option in daily life. It is about making every decision with God in the equation, and ultimately if the decision follows the law of love. This is the mind-set that put us on the path to serving God that will eventually see us shift our desires to place God in the centre of life.
We are conflicted when we want to buy a new car because the fervent community tells us it is better to give the money to the needy. We feel guilty when we pursue the best schools for our children and when we participate in the rat race. This is good mental tension because for starters we are mindful to the presence of God and we are trying to focus on Him as well.
We must be like the old couple in today’s reading; eagerly welcoming the presence of God in our life. “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcomes the one who sent me”. Everything we do in this life must firstly be for his sake, yes even in our pursuit of career and family. But we must start by welcoming God into all the compartments of our life so that gradually our lives will transform as we find ourselves “taking up the cross” more often to serve him.
I can drive a new car and come from the best school but it is not the possession nor the status but how I can use them to serve God amongst the people I encounter daily. Gradually with God’s growing presence we will find ourselves taking up the cross more often and we will be shaped and transformed as we follow his footsteps. Slowly but surely the desires of what is worldly gives way to what is Godly. When our experience of God’s glory increases, our desire for self-gratification decreases. A new car will eventually become less important.
This is part of the dynamics of our faith journey. We will fall in love with this cross we carry because it gives so much back to us by allowing us to experience what joy and true happiness really are. It takes time and we must not turn a deaf ear but instead begin to welcome God and put him in the centre of our decisions. Conflicts and tensions will evaporate when we are graced to this wisdom, “Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time