Salvation is a gift, but it is not a gift without a price.
It was a gift foretold by the prophets. The price was paid by our Lord. As believers we too asked to modify the way we act and how we assign our priorities. Those who have gone before us have been willing to make great sacrifices. How do we respond when called?
I never felt comfortable with today’s Gospel. (I can remember first confronting it 25 years ago.) I recognize Jesus is making a point which builds on the previous verses. The kingdom of heaven is a greater challenge for those with much in this world. Seeking things of value in this world is clearly a distraction to our Lord and his saving grace. Personally I find little difficulty in assigning the value of faith to be greater than the things of this world when the things of this world are things, but when the things of this world are family, I am truly challenged. I do not find it difficult to place my faith over things like a large house, a nice car or even basic cable, but I am not so spiritually free as to put God before family. I recognize the commitment of true faith means making the Lord and his service the single central focus of my being. I confess that I am not ready to go that far. My reflections actually take me in a different direction. I find that I grow in my understanding of my faith through analogies to familial love. I find it more central to my being to have the experience of a worldly loving father and even the challenges presented by child, than to have the transcendent experience. I have felt the glow given by a loving God, but I admit my weakness and continue to hold my ultimate emotional investment in people in this world. I know some who have interpreted this passage in a sense more along the lines I would like to hear, but really have come to the conclusion that faith asks us to truly make the Lord and his offer of salvation our ultimate end. I recognize this does not mean giving up those I love, but only establishing a new set of priorities. I find myself in the role of the man who Jesus asked to sell his possessions and follow him. The man walked away sad because he was wealthy in the things of this world. I do not find myself walking away, but I find myself sad in my faith prospects because of the ultimate priority which I assign to my worldly family.
Today I pray for the Lord’s continuing love and grace. I pray for his understanding of my weakness. I thank him for the gift of those near to me. Salvation was not meant to be a gift with strings attached. I pray that I may grow in my faith and understanding until I no longer perceive the strings I have created.
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