In the last two weeks, we received a set of parables from Jesus on the theme of discernment: the rich fool and the vigilant and faithful servant. From these stories, we learn not to waste our time and energy on earthly treasures but on heavenly treasures that “no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” We learned to avoid being lazy but instead to be vigilant by doing what we ought as faithful servants. We know the what and the how, but what about the when? How do we know when the moment has arrived when a decision must be made?
Many of us delay making an important decision for various reasons: fear of the unknown, laziness, or patterns of procrastination. Today, Jesus points out one of the natural consequences of a decision: it creates division, “Do not think I have come to establish peace on earth. No, I tell you, but rather division.” We fear division because we sometimes wrongly believe that the ideal life is a life without drama, challenges or sufferings. This vision is not based on reality. It’s the ups and downs of life that keep us alive. When these opposing moments are not present, we flatline. Pope Benedict XVI said, “You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Greatness compels us to move from fear to love.
Jesus’ ardent love is an active love and possesses a sense of urgency, “I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already blazing!” Urgency is an aspect of authentic love that keeps us from laziness, delay, coldness of heart and confinement, and opens us to truth, warmth, life and joy.
The decision for authentic love reveals false forms of love of our past which naturally includes relationships of blood. As important as these relationships are, they do not constitute all the essentials of our salvation, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12:48, 50) We are called to transform blood bonds to bonds of faith capable of bringing us from this life into the next.
So, how do we know when the time has arrived to make a decision? We know when we have fallen in love; when we have been set on fire after the example of Jesus, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.” (1 Jn 4:10) When this love comes, do not delay. It is time to act.
* Abbot of St. Martin Abbey Lacey, Washington
By Fr Marion Nguyen, osb*