What does Jesus Christ want of us?
Any parent of a sluggish (usually teenage) child knows the expression, ‘How many times must I call you?’ as a teenager will often put off a painful duty. A girl in her 20s told me how her teenage niece texted her from the couch in her home to the kitchen to make her a cup of tea! How lazy can you get?
We delay the inevitable thought of discomfort. We text ahead that we are running late (but what really delayed us?). There is no ad break or commercial break, there is no ‘I’ll get back to you’ for our response to God. Abraham Lincoln once said that ‘my father taught me the value of hard work, but he didn’t teach me to like it’.
What does God want? There is no snooze button or pause button where God is concerned. Nor does He does not want to be put on hold!
He wants obedience –
· and doing,
· to the present moment.
He wants our friendship and a return of the love that He has shown us.
He calls each one of us, not just priests and nuns or missionaries, to follow Him. He wants of each person the faithful performance of their daily duty as required of their state in life. It need not necessarily be (though may include) getting up and facing the day sometimes on a dark, dreary wintry morning that is bleak and daunting to go off to work.
He wants us to follow Him to Jerusalem - to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. He wants a particular kind of friendship and relationship – of trust and of reliability.
What kind of friend am I to Him? What kind of person am I?
Three people make what we might deem valid excuses in their response to Christ’s call today.
But the excuses that we make tell us a lot about ourselves in our present state. The delay tactics, the reasons for delay are about us wanting to put off an uncomfortable but necessary duty that urgently presents itself to us!
‘I’ll do it later’ tasks are often never done at all, of if done are done later in the day, under the pressure of the clock or deadline, and grudgingly or slipshod. As creatures of habit we might work better under the pressure of a deadline and how ironic it is that the more time I have on my hands, the less I get done.
‘I don’t feel like it’ is not refer to things that a matter of taste but those very things are a matter of duty, of honouring and being faithful to a commitment. As Nike ads say ‘Just do it’. Laziness, or sloth in one place will ultimately spill into all areas of our lives. This is part of the self-indulgence that St Paul warns the Galatians about in today’s Sunday reading. A good test of our response, our obedience to the present moment, to the duty required of us, is our punctuality vis à vis suiting ourselves. So we see that the Cross that we are called to pick up every day (last week) does in fact involve denying ourselves, and if for no other reason let us at least be motivated to act straight away by our consideration for others’ feelings. This is very telling when we see that Our Lady went with haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth and was so attentive at Cana before everyone else noticed that the wine had run out and spared the couple’s and family’s embarrassment in a real concrete situation.
We are at constant war with the self-indulgent back-sliding that years of bad ingrained habit tempt us back to, and the striving to live a life in the Spirit – the new life which Christ calls us towards and ultimately leads to eternal life.
If we are truly, madly, deeply in love with Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and faithful to Him in prayer (even when we don’t feel like praying when the opportunity presents itself), we will find ourselves saying more and more often when we are tempted backwards: ‘How could I do that to Him?’ and throughout the day we will see Him and serve Him with consideration more and more in our neighbour. Then our constant question will be ‘what am I waiting for?’