Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.
This week's Gospel is from St. Luke 9:51-62. Among the various incidents gathered together by Luke in these verses of his gospel we have read today, perhaps the lesson that should strike all of us most is his insistence on total dedication on the part of his true followers to his service. We cannot be for Christ and against him at the same time. "He who gathers not with me. scatters," he himself said. We are followers of Christ since our baptism. In theory, this is the fact, but in practice how real is this fact for many of us? Are we really following Christ during the twenty-four hours of every day of our lives? Are our eyes always fixed on the true future which awaits us? Are we prepared to plow a straight furrow no matter what snags or obstacles may be on our way? How few of us can answer "yes, we are," to these straight questions?
We have, of course, explanations ready at hand for our forgetfulness, our laxity, our earthly entanglements. We are tied down by family and a hundred other earthly cares. Our days, our weeks, and our year are so fully occupied that we find it hard to spare even a short hour on Sundays to give to God. This answer shows a misunderstanding of what Christ demands of us. He knows his followers must live for a few years in this world and must, for the most part, struggle to earn a living for themselves during that period. But it is by living this earthly life properly, by being loyal to spouse and family, by earning one's living honestly, and by living not only peacefully but helpfully with one's neighbors, that we are living our Christian life.
The man who keeps within the limits that Christian law lays down for him, while working his way through this life. is a true follower of Christ and is on the road to heaven, plowing a straight furrow. He may not have much time for prayer, and each morning he may rush off to work. But God understands half-sentences and even single words. At night he needs recreation and relaxation. and God does not expect long prayers from him—if he has worked honestly and has given the example of true Christianity to his fellow workers, he has honored God all day. He has prayed well. A few words of thanks to God, a request for pardon for all the mistakes made since morning, before lying down to sleep at night, will give such a man nothing to fear should God call him to judgment during the night hours.
If we only realized how reasonable God's demands are, and how every demand he makes on us is for our own benefit and not his, we would be a little more generous in ours. response to his calls. He does not need us—we need him. We could slip in a few more short prayers during the day: we could find more time to take a true interest in the eternal and less in the temporal. We could manage to give a helping hand and a word of encouragement to a needy neighbor. Yes, all of us could do a lot more to show to Christ and to the world that we are following him gladly and honestly. We are not looking back while plowing our Christian furrow.
O God, who through the grace of adoption chose us to be children of light, grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.