Ordinary Time - Week 03b

Detachment to follow Christ

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

Today's Gospel tells us how Christ called four of his disciples: they were Peter, Andrew, James and John. These four were fishermen and they were at their work casting their nets, or mending them, at the moment when Jesus passed by and called them. These Apostles had already met Our Lord and had felt profoundly attracted to him and to his doctrine. The call they now received was final: Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men. Jesus sought them out at their work and he drew on their occupation, as fishermen to choose a simile by which to tell them what their new mission in life was to be.

Those fishermen immediately left everything in order to follow the Master. We know too that Saint Matthew left everything, and got up and followed him. We see each one of the Apostles doing the same when Christ seeks him out in his own particular circumstances.

If we are to follow Christ, our soul has to be free from any attachments: from love of self in the first place; from an excessive concern for our health or for the future, from riches and material goods. When the heart is set upon and filled with concern for earthly goods, there is no room in it for God. God will ask of some people an absolute renunciation, so that they can be completely at his disposal. He asked this of the Apostles; He asked it of the rich young man, as He has done of so many men and women throughout the centuries. These people have found in him their treasure and their riches. Christ demands of everyone who really wants to follow him an effective detachment from self and from everything he possesses. If this detachment is real, it will manifest itself in many aspects of ordinary life, for since the created world is good, the heart tends to attach itself in a disordered fashion to people and to things. This is why the Christian needs to be constantly on the watch, and to examine himself frequently, so as not to allow creatures or created things to stand in the way of his union with God, but rather to let them become a means of loving and serving him. Hence, let them all see to it that they guide their affections rightly, admonishes the Second Vatican Council; otherwise, they will be thwarted in the search for perfect charity by the way they use earthly possessions, and by a fondness for riches which goes against the gospel spirit of poverty. The Apostle has sounded the warning: "let those who make use of this world not get bogged down in it, for the structure of this world is passing away." These words of Saint Paul to the Christians at Corinth, taken from the Second Reading of today's Mass, are an invitation to us to place our heart in what is eternal, in God.

The renunciation God asks of us has to be effective and specific. As Jesus was to say later, it is impossible to serve God and mammon. If we are able to give up our life for Christ, with how much greater reason should we give up transient goods, which, after all, last only a short time and are of little value.