Christianity: No Hidden Clauses, No Small Print!
“IF”, says God! These two letters of the alphabet, when put together, make for a deadly combination with far reaching consequences for a Christian. And “IF”, is the operative word for Christian life. Make no mistake; there is no force to follow Christianity even for a baptized Christian who lives with a million “what ifs” in his or her mind. But once you say ‘yes’ to the IF, then there is no BUT!
In our readings of today, Moses, reflecting the mind of God, says precisely that. ‘If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, then you receive from his hand the gifts of life.’ He also says, ‘If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish. While some may see in it a pressure to conform, that most certainly is not God’s mind. He wants the choice to be our and so He places the consequences of our choices before us when he says, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then.
But here is what God won’t do. He won’t make the choice for us. He will suggest what He thinks is right, He will plead that we make the right decision; but he won’t choose for us. That stretching forth to choose, especially during Lent, is a choice we have to consciously make.
Jesus too, offers us that very same choice. He says “IF you wish to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me”. Unlike the gospel of Matthew and Mark, the gospel of Luke uses the word ‘daily’. Not only is Jesus offering us a choice to follow him, He also lays the conditions of discipleship squarely on the table. There are no hidden clauses for a Christian, there is no small print and the cross looms large in the contract. Luke wants to stress that the day- to- day following of Jesus involves “the cross”.
As much as this may sound burdensome and demanding, this is not so for one who loves Jesus! A disciple operates out of love. If you don’t, then the cross seems heavy and the commandments seem unfair. Let me offer an example. For a young couple in love, no distance seems long even if they choose to meet after a tiring day at work. It is love that prompts the journey and overcomes the fatigue and challenges of the day. But when that same love grows dim, the very journey becomes burdensome and tiring. Love has gone away, a chore has set in, and the relationship is reduced to ‘ I have to’!
Look into your life today. If the daily carrying of Jesus’ cross is heavy, if the commandments of God have become burdensome, then perhaps it is because we have begun to choose otherwise. For many of us, our love for the Lord has faded over the years. The promises we made at the time of confirmation or marriage has now diminished. Weariness, frustration, disappointments have set in and following Jesus has become a burden, the cross feels truly heavy. In this situation I begin to find fault with the Lord, with the Church, with the choir, with the homily, with the way people dress, where they stand, how they pray….. It never ends. The answer lies within.
This Lent, examine your relationship of love with the Lord and make that choice once again. Choose life then, choose love, choose the cross above all, choose Jesus.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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