Scripture this week is about dedication to the faith. Elisha follows Elijah in the first reading. Paul tells us to stand firm and not submit to the yoke of slavery again. And Christ tells us that the man who puts his hand to the plough and turns back is not fit for his kingdom. Lets confess any wavering in our faith..
Many of you may have read about Van Gogh, the painter. He sold only one work during his life. After his death they found his most famous painting propping up the door of a chicken coop. Most laughed at his daubing and he lived in abject poverty, dependant on his brother Leo. Eventually dedication to art cost him his life. Yet he persevered to the end, because he knew that what he was doing was more valuable than the jibes of detractors.
The same is true of faith. We persevere in it for deep down we know its our lasting happiness. As Christ makes clear in our Gospel; once we put our hands to the plough at baptism no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. This warning is spot on for today when many abandon Christ for the world’s passing values. The least effort to practice their faith is too much, let alone giving all for God. Today’s gospel challenges those in the modern world who say, “serve self at all costs, don’t let God or moral values get in the way of your pleasure and greed”.
Jesus warns us that hard self-centered worldly ways don’t satisfy in the long run and can leave us empty before eternity. For if we reject God in this world we may also do so at death and that’s hell. Moreover when we abandon the faith we neglect the soul’s deeper desires and needs. Even from a practical point of view then, modern psychologists agree that faith is good for us, it gives a depth and grace to our lives which nothing else can. Only faith can bring the life within us to full flower. That’s why even scientists agree that evolution favors those of faith, so to turn from it is senseless in every way. That’s why Christ says of the godless people of his day: “let the dead bury their dead”. In effect, the faithless self-centered way is inner death. For what’s the use of having all the material things and pleasures of this world if we’re dead inside. “Man doesn’t live on bread alone”. The world may mock married faithfulness or the religious who gives all for God and the church, or the priest who lives a celibate life for the safe of the Kingdom of God, or the devoted lay person who sacrifices his or her free time to go to mass on Sunday. But for Christ all such dedication is to be truly alive. Commitment to God and others in love may not bring wealth or instant pleasure but deep in the heart it cleanses and frees us both for eternity and deeper happiness in this world. That’s why Christ didn’t just preach the urgency of faith and love, he lived them. Resisting Satan’s lure of godless wealth, pleasure and self-glory which is worship of the evil one, he left all to be a poor travelling preacher and bring humanity to life on the cross.
We Christians must do the same: that’s why Jesus says “anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world for my sake will keep it for eternal life; unless a grain of wheat dies it cannot yield a harvest”. Make no mistake, like Christ, if we’re true to God, faith and his church the world will hate us. But we’ll have enduring happiness, Christ’s glory in our lives. For keeping faith, living our baptism commitment to be true to his values, when he comes again we’ll go out to meet him with the saints and he’ll say, well done good and faithful servant. For the world’s values of which Satan is lord pass and leave us empty inside but Christ is lord of life, goodness, truth and happiness both for this world and forever and ever amen.
So as God’s people setting our hand to the plough and continuing in living faith to eternal glory, lets profess our faith..
Prayers of the faithful
And as the steadfast faithful lets pray to God for our needs..
For church leaders throughout the world, especially our holy Father, that they may persevere in proclaiming, living and witnessing to the faith, for the deeper life of the world..
For civil leaders, realizing “man does not live on bread alone” may they may help preserve the faith our ancestors suffered for.
For our marvelous youth that putting their hands to the plough at baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation, they may persevere in faith and worship to deeper life here and forever with God..
For parents and children, may they, as Vatican 11 says, be the “domestic church”, faithful to Christ and love of one another..
For the sick that through our love, care and prayers they may be strengthened, comforted, knowing God’s love in their suffering.
For the dead that through our continuing prayers they may come to the final peace and happiness promised by Christ to the faithful..
And we ask these prayers through Christ who cares for his holy people forever and ever, amen.
That film “The Devil Wears Prada” makes a point like that of Christ in our gospel. It features a girl tempted to lose her soul to the ruthless world of fashion. Eventually, she realizes its empty show is not worth the losing of friends and deeper values. Many during the Celtic Tiger followed The Devil Who Wears Prada, fashionable clothes and vain shows of vulgar wealth. Of course we should enjoy the world’s good things, but not to the extent of losing our soul. There are more important things than keeping up with The Devil Who Wears Prada, love, integrity, practice of the faith and so on. Lets pray that Mary will help us when tempted to abandon Christ and church practice for worldly vanity..Hail Mary