Sunday, August 16, 2015

Then Come, Follow Me

When the LORD raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge and save them from the power of their enemies as long as the judge lived. The LORD would change his mind when they groaned in their affliction under their oppressors.  But when the judge died, they would again do worse than their ancestors, following other gods, serving and bowing down to them, relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn ways.  Judges 2:18-19

“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:20-22

Chapter 62: On the Priests of the Monastery
…[L]et the one who is ordained beware of self-exaltation or pride; and let him not presume to do anything except what is commanded him by the Abbot, knowing that he is so much the more subject to the discipline of the Rule. Nor should he by reason of his priesthood forget the obedience and the discipline required by the Rule, but make ever more and more progress towards God.

According to the introduction to this book in the New American Bible, “The Hebrew word translated “Judges” in the English title of the book refers not to specialized judicial officers or magistrates but to leaders in general.”

During this period after Joshua, Israel underwent a cyclical pattern of infidelity, oppression, “crying out,” and deliverance which is at the heart of today’s first reading. According to the notes:

“When the Israelites are secure, they forsake the Lord and worship other gods. In punishment the Lord places them in the power of a foreign oppressor. But when they cry out in distress, the Lord takes pity on them and raises up a judge, who delivers them from the oppressor. The Israelites remain faithful to the Lord during the lifetime of the judge, but when the judge dies they again abandon the Lord, and the cycle begins anew.” 

Be our leaders “judges,” priests, prophets, kings or lay people, we still have to maintain perspective of the challenges laid before us by Jesus. If given money, power, or other gifts, we must give up what we are given.

A stubborn person is determined to do what he or she wants and refuses to do anything else.  People who are stubborn are difficult to move, change, or deal with.  The Israelites were stubborn and set in their disobedient ways.  The rich young man with many possessions was happy to selectively pursue the commandments that he chose, but not all the commandments delivered by Jesus.

Are we any different from the Israelites or the rich young man with many possessions? 

On September 12, 2001, the churches were filled.  When we were filled with fear for ourselves, our neighbors and our country, we turned to God.  The sanctuary was a comfort to our afflictions.  However, when we got comfortable again, we were in no rush to be afflicted.  What other masters have given way since then?  iPhones.  NFL teams.  New cars.  401(k)/TSP.  The great solitary eye. 

The key to the treasure is lack of treasure. Despite all that we have, ask yourself, “What do I still lack?”  Do not cower from the answer because you need to reconcile with that answer before you can follow the Ultimate Commandment:  “Come, Follow Me.”  Don’t get too weighed down, distracted or stubborn for that journey. 

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