Are you crazy? That would have been my response a few years back if someone had told me that I would be poor, unmarried and servile. This is not what life is all about. After all, I was meant to live it high and mighty.
Moses proposes to God’s people: Today I set before you life and prosperity, death and doom (Dt 30:15). Christ proposes to his disciples: Today I set before you death or life, the Cross or the World.
The conditions of discipleship are set. No one will ever change them, not the Pope and not even the people of God. These conditions come from God himself. God is easily pleased but not easily satisfied. He demands it all or “go back to where you came from.” No one can serve two masters, not even the Master. It’s all or nothing.
Christians can be “like Christ” if they are both human and divine. But they cannot be both worldly and Godly. It must be one or the other, and to be with Christ means to be with the One who won.
Why such a radical life? This is best explained by the response to Christ’s life by the Elders, the Chief priest and the Pharisees: He must die. Christ shakes up their worldly power, worldly authority and worldly life. He shakes up the world! There isn’t enough space on earth for the two. All involved are perfectly aware that this is a battle of life and death. What Christ’s adversaries do not realize is that they are digging their own grave. The world will never again here of Pharisees or Scribes, High priests or even Elders. The paradox is that Christ’s death brought about their death. “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
We know what Moses meant when he offered his people life and prosperity; he offered them the Commandments. Live by the Commandments. They are the perfect prescription for life and health. They do not limit our freedoms; they protect them. They enrich life, not bore it to death with the same horrible consequences that occur every single time we break them! They add salt to the world; not on the wound.
But not even the Commandments are good enough. To live the Commandments (and our vows) without Christ would be like a Cross without Christ: UNBEARABLE!
Blessed the man who follows the counsel of the Lord, he is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers (Psalm 1). Christ is our water. He brings all good things to life. To live life without him would be like a tree planted in the desert: Useless, purposeless, meaningless…UNBEARABLE!
Lord, may everything we do begin with your inspiration, continue with your help, and reach perfection under your guidance. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.