23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
…for a perishable body presses down the soul, and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.
The last line of today’s gospel has always filled me with discouragement. Frankly, I have never understood it. The idea that I might have to renounce my whole life before I can be a disciple of Christ — it’s a tough mental hurdle. Whether we like it or not, whether we’ve chosen these roles for ourselves or they’ve been thrust upon us, so much of our identity is wrapped up in our earthly roles — mother, daughter, sister, wife. I’m not sure who I’d be if you stripped me of all of it. “For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind”. Yes, that’s factually accurate, yet for some of us, the struggles of these earthly roles is how we’ve come to God.
I think of the apostles, people like Peter and Paul, who gave up their whole lives to inhabit God’s roles for them. In the pages of Scripture, the arc of their story leaps out at you, because how could it not? These great heroes, going on a quest for God. In real life, if I attempted to do something so bold, if I tried to make God my passion project, I’d be ridiculed for shirking my duties, guilted for putting my desires first. It just doesn’t happen like that. Not in real life.
And that’s that isn’t it? Responsibility. Duty. Obligation. They tether us to this ‘earthen shelter’. How is caring for one’s family not carrying a cross? Tell that to the mother who gets no sleep because she has a new infant. Or the daughter who sits by her parent, praying for his healing. Or the wife who fights for her marriage despite her husband’s early onset dementia. How does staying and fighting not qualify me as a disciple of Christ? Because I too, would sometimes like to give it all up to chase the romantic notion of going on a quest where it’s just God and I. But I cannot. Because I have a cross. And it is heavy.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all who are struggling with heavy crosses. May God help them to carry their heavy burden, or even, to take that cross from their shoulders completely, that they might be able to take a rest sometimes.
Thanksgiving: All things are possible with Christ, but it takes a village to raise a family. We give thanks for all the help and support that God sends to us, to help us carry our crosses.