I was reminded of that experiment where a child was left in a room with a marshmallow on the table in front of him/her. He/she is told that if they don’t eat the marshmallow while the proctor (the adult running the experiment) is out of the room, that the child will get two marshmallows to eat when the adult returns. Invariably, the child eats the marshmallow almost immediately after the adult leaves. Human nature. We can’t seem to believe it will be better and bigger reward if we put off the immediate gratification for a later and larger one. It is one of those few times in our nature when we humans actually live in the present (instead of regretting the past or worrying about the future). We decide for the present, the now, the immediate. Many consumer industries depend upon this quirk of our natures; it’s why being great and best at anything (like Olympians) is difficult: if it were easy everyone would do it. You know: instead of the long process of hard work and sacrifice and then the reward…
What has that to do with the readings for this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time?
Jesus tells us today about the sacrifice it takes to follow Him: to be true to our core, Christian beliefs (modeled by Him). He speaks of Christ first in and before all other things: what you say you are, what you say—and especially in what you do. Christ first—in the face of opposition and social acceptance, in the face of fear, in the face of temptation and sin—and especially when tempted to the easy way. You know it: the cookie with your name on it; the couch and television instead of a walk; the drink or drug calling to you; turning away from a moment that may be teachable for persons near you or in your family that hold to positions that oppose Christian values—and taking the easy way out...
Do you ever ask yourself if you are truly committed to a life in Christ? And what does that mean—what does that look like?
The Gospel Acclamation verse today is: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” Your first reaction (mine was) is that of a special place of honor with all the perks implied by power. But the implication here is huge for us true believers—and it is not about the privileges of power—but about the responsibility, the mission, the inheritance and accountability we are called to as Catholic Christians. This “entitlement” as named Christians is one that demands deep commitment and fierce self-reflection. Our integrity as true believers must constantly be held to a Gospel standard and examined: are we taking the marshmallow immediately, or doing the right thing in the moment, the hard thing, and waiting for a later and better reward? That is what each and every one of us is called to do. And we also have a collective responsibility in that all of us are responsible to these core ideals—no “passing the buck”—except to help the poor and the marginalized.
St. Paul tells us that by our Baptism we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ: if we die with Christ, we shall live with Him in “newness of life.” We are called to live for God in Jesus, announcing His praises, called out of darkness into light—doing the hard work. A new life is what we will find: a thinner and energized best version we are called to be in order to work in this field of souls. That is the life we are chosen for and that we choose: acceptance that bestows responsibility for others, accountability for our actions, and the joy of the cross. Is it worth the sacrifice and hard work, eschewing the easy way out? Only you can say for you. Food for thought…
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Brother Louis Cantor lived in Detroit and was the Director of Music for our Archdiocese for many years. This link is for exactly what it is—Louis has been fighting cancer for years—as have many of you and your families and friends. On his fb page he offers many prayer opportunities; he is very prayerful and talented man. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work and make music with him. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0B7v4WIX9E
PS: Many of you emailed and spoke to me that you were moved by, and loved, this song by Craig Colson that I sang at mass a couple of weeks ago. Here it is, recorded by the composer: We Breathe in Love - YouTube