What Does it Take?

Week of August 21, 2016

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is sharing some of the realities of the journey.  It is not enough just to been seen with Jesus.  It is not enough just to say you have faith.  It is not enough just to know what door to knock on to ask if the master will open it.  Jesus wants much, much more.  All of our striving to be seen as doing the right thing is not the same as doing the right thing.  It is not about being seen.  Faith is lived in the recesses of our hearts. It involves a discipline, surrender and a commitment.  Jesus is quick to point out that the loudest ones; those who are first, are going to be best suited for the reign of God.  They will be welcomed, but seen as the last.  So how do we make sense of this?  How do we integrate what Jesus is saying?

One of the lines that stuck out in the Gospel is the one where the master behind the door says, “I do not know where you are from”.  How can God not know where we are from?   We are created in His image.  Where we are from is based on motivation.  It is based on why we do what we do.  Sadly our world spins very quickly.  We do not have enough quiet time to reflect and absorb.  So often we get distracted by the next text message or the next place we have to be.  We get worried about what social media is saying about us.  When that becomes the power, we are not at the starting point that God had intended.  We were born with original sin, we were Baptized into the family of God that washed way original sin and now we are to live in connection with that grace.  We get lost in the things that pass away.

When I was in high school, I was very active in my faith.  I would not only go to Mass, but I would also volunteer with retreats and help in many ways.  All of this gave me a reputation; everyone thought I was a great model of faith.  Inside I felt like a hypocrite.  I wasn’t doing it for the people I was helping.  I was doing it so others could see me doing it and think I was great.  Doing the right thing without the right motivation and reason is empty.  I found myself empty.  In those moments it is easy to hear the words, “I don’t know where you are from”.  My actions and my heart were separate.  The self had overcome reason.  While on retreat that year at the Catholic high school I was attending, I had to face those facts.  I needed to be true.  When I was finally true to myself, I found God. Actually, He found me.  When I surrendered to my brokenness, I realized only He could do good in my life and with Him, nothing was impossible.  My sophomore year was life-changing.  It was not because of my grades, it was not because of how fast I could run in cross country and it was not the many hours of service projects I completed. Rather it was life-changing because it was the time when I allowed the navigation system of God to take over.

What does it take? It takes surrender, discipline and a commitment to allow God to be God, the only God in your life.

Rev. John J. Ouper