Sunday, June 26, 2016
Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."
Today's Gospel was like a sword through the heart for me.
I am about to begin a two-year formation program to prepare to take vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia. At the end of the two years, if I am allowed to continue, I will be given the choice of moving to Kansas for a year and beginning a canonical novitiate--at the end of which I could take the traditional three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (which is what I would like to do), OR, I can take a simple, non-canonical vow of fidelity to the Congregation, and become what is called an “agrégée” Sister: one who is a member of the Congregation, recognized as a Sister, but without the privilege of voting on Congregational matters, and not obligated to turn over their financial assets to the Order and receive lifetime care.
I don't care about the "lifetime care" part, because I have sufficient retirement income and expected inheritance to take care of myself: but I would very much like to be canonical and take the three traditional vows. However, if my parents are still alive when the two years are up, is Jesus really telling me in today's Gospel that I should leave my parents and move to Kansas to become a Novice, if I am sincere about following Him? Because if that is what He is asking, I already promised to do whatever He wants, if He would give me what I asked for in prayer--and He did: an opportunity to once again have a consecrated life.
This is what the Gospel says:
"And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."
It doesn't seem to me as though there is much wiggle-room in that.
I asked Father Rafael about it, and he actually said that Jesus is wrong--that caring for parents is a sacred duty also, and that he is going to bury his father no matter what (those are not his exact words, but an approximation). Of course he can't say that Jesus is wrong: Jesus is God, so He can't be wrong... and I don't think Father Rafael really meant that, either: he was just expressing his Latin emotion regarding his love for family. I get that. But if Jesus really is asking that of me--of all of us, if it applies--then I have to do it. I am too far gone on this road of love and devotion to God, not to.
This is going to take a lot of prayer. Fortunately, the end of two years is quite a ways off, and anything could happen. But this is going to be a big topic between me and Jesus for quite a long time to come, I have a feeling. +