The idea of commitment is featured in both of the scripture readings for today. The dictionary defines commitment as: “a pledge or promise to do something.” In the first scripture reading, Abraham has already made a commitment to the one true God. It has become a very important part of his life, and he lives out his commitment daily. He takes his commitment so seriously that he is even ready at the command of God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. In this scripture reading we hear of the wickedness of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how God has resolved to destroy these cities because of the wickedness of the people. Because of his steadfast following of God, Abraham is so favored on this occasion as to speak directly to God and to plead for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In the gospel reading, the scribe was very impressed with what he heard about Jesus. When he had the chance to meet Jesus, he was so moved that he made a commitment on the spot, offering to follow him wherever he might go. When Jesus says: “the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head,” he is cautioning the scribe that following him entails a difficult commitment. A commitment that the scribe was apparently not able to make since there is no further mention of him in the gospel story. The story of the scribe teaches us that commitment is not easy, and that in order to make a commitment we need to have recourse to prayer to seek the help of the Lord.
Throughout history there have been many men who inspired commitment from others. Religious leaders like Mohammed and Mahatma Ghandi. Saints like Benedict and Ignatius Loyola. Rulers and military leaders like Julius Caesar and Napoleon. Many people made a commitment to follow such leaders. Today also people make commitments to follow those who inspire them.
The stories of Abraham and the scribe remind me that Christ sought a commitment from me and my fellow Jesuits to follow him in the Society of Jesus. He also seeks a commitment from all people who are inspired by Christ and his message and teaching. All of us who are inspired by Christ can make a commitment to follow him in our daily lives. But we must heed the examples of Abraham and the scribe in making our commitment. Like Abraham we must make our commitment after careful consideration of what we are to do and after seeking God’s help in prayer. Unlike the scribe, we must know what it is we are committing ourselves to, and we must ask for God’s help. With the help of the Lord, all who so desire can make a commitment to follow him in their daily lives. Such a commitment will help those of us who make it to become an example to inspire others to do likewise.
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