Saint for the day: Francis of Assisi (September 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226)
Nehemiah 2:1-8 – Psalm 137 – Luke 9:57-62
Due to the tradition that St. Dominic and St. Francis –both contemporaries – knew other the Franciscans refer to “Our Holy Father, Dominic,” on his feast day and the Dominicans celebrate the Feast of our Holy Father, Francis on his feast day.
My first thought today, after hearing this reading from Nehemiah and the stern admonition from Jesus about following Him is that there really is ‘nothing new under the sun’ in this world. Things once thought to be the most important in our lives and our history are left in ruins. People’s lives are in turmoil, whether it be economic or spiritual, or trying to live in a world of natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. ‘Following the Lord’ is not anywhere near the most important thing that people think about these days.
Nehemiah is sad and looking back to the way the temple has been left in ruins and seeks to rebuild it to it’s former glory. But we know from history that even the “Temples of the Lord” are passing and what is built up by one generation will be left in ruins by another. We might take this thought and apply it to the situation of the Church today: many think that we have left our “traditions” and gone after “fancies” that are far from the essence of what Jesus intended. When Jesus uses the analogy of “putting your hand to the plow” I think that we have to see that we must always keep going. The world isn’t the same today as it was when I entered the Dominicans almost 60 years ago. Or when the Dominicans first came to California (or wherever you want to place that marker.)
The quote from Ram Das, “Be Here NOW!” is so important for us to focus on. And we must stand in that “here and now place” – albeit aware of where we’ve come from – but always focused on where we are now and where we are (hoping) to be going.
No matter where we find ourselves, right now is the only moment we can really trust. We can’t go back and we can’t run ahead. We’re here, now, and all that we can honestly do is “plow ahead!”
Jesus asks us to follow Him. To leave father, mother, homelands, and receive the “Hundred Fold Reward.” When He was asked who His father, mother, kin are, His response was “those who hear the word of God and ‘act on it’ are His kin. Can we honestly say we’ve put our ‘hand to the plow’ and not looked back? Think about what that really means. Perhaps it’s not looking at what we’ve failed to do but looking ahead to what we might be able to do.
We might let this prayer of St. Ignatius be in our thoughts today: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, my entire will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace – that’s enough for me.” Amen!