By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published July 7, 2016
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 plowAnd looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
As given us in this Gospel, the call of Jesus to follow him is one that demands an immediate response and no looking back. Those he called were to leave the familiarity of their former lives and embark on a new and strange road.
I do not think that anyone of us can expect to hear the call of Jesus in quite the same way as the Gospels suggest. Yet the call does come. It is heard and followed differently, and exacts the same largeness of heart and risk from each of us.
Something in the human heart needs to find a person, a lifestyle, a community, to which the heart can be given totally and without reserve.
The rites of marriage and monastic profession offer examples familiar to most of us of words and promises that bind the heart for life to a beloved person or community. We vow to stay with one way of life: a life that we hope holds for us what we need, to set our hearts on a lifelong path.
The call of Jesus comes to us through the church. The church is people.
The church has many voices, many rooms, many ways of finding within its vast corridors ways of finding and living out our heart’s desire.
Human voices, themselves inspired to speak by the stirrings of the Spirit, call to us at the crossroads of our lives. They invite us into marriage, into monastic life, into a life of service to others as that life is revealed to us in so many and different ways.
And on a given day, we say yes, standing before friends and family, leaving what we knew with them and entering a life where we shall offer something new to them and to God. It is a departure from the familiar that brings us to new places, new ways of loving, new ways of hearing the voice of a God who never ceases speaking to us.
It is a voice that long ago felt a call itself, leaving the comforting familiarity of one way of life and wedding itself to human life. God knows what it means to leave one place and live anew in another.
The dwelling place of God is human life. To fall in love with God is to fall in love with life. God lives within us and it is from us that he speaks. And we can hear his voice. Feed me, clothe me, shelter me, visit me, comfort me, do not abandon me, do not hurt me. Love me, no matter the color of my skin, my style of life, my need to follow a different way to the God you have found.
The voice is one and yet many, beckoning us to follow, to listen, to respond, to love.
Trappist Father James Stephen Behrens is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in His books are available at the monastery web store at www.HolySpiritMonasteryGifts.com.