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Monday, July 02, 2007

The hand on the plough

Last night, we watched "Spirited Away" on DVD, and one of the lessons I explained to my kids was to finish what you've started. This from Kamaji telling Chihiro to do so after she had picked up a heavy piece of coal in order to rescue a sootball trapped underneath. Chihiro then proceeded as told, to bring the coal to the incinerator, completing what she had begun. Today's readings (oddly enough) say the same thing. The first reading (1 Kings 19:16 - 21) relates how Elijah appointed Elisha as an apprentice, and Elisha had first asked to go and say goodbye to his parents. The great prophet pointed out that he had to make a hard choice. In the second reading (Galatians 5:1 - 18), St. Paul exhorts us:

  When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

This, too, is about finishing what was started, in this case, what was started in us by baptism: our justification. As was the Lord's words in the Gospel reading (Luke 9:51 - 62):

  ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’.

Stories of cafeteria Catholicism or Christianity-lite in general are always sad. It's easy to fall into the trap of taking our calling for granted. That's why I do admire people such as Cardinal George Pell, Pope Benedict XVI and the late Pope John Paul the Great -- and there are countless others leading families and churches/congregations/orders -- who understand that the Lord's calling is nothing trivial. St. Josemaria Escriva was wont (it seems to me) to present the seriousness and gravity of the Lord's calling, and he was entirely right to do so. How can the Lord's calling ever be considered anything but a clarion call to arms when so much is at stake? It is easy to forget, especially in comfortable societies such as here in Australia, that our Christian calling has always been and is always a call to war, when good must confront evil -- in ourselves and around us -- and win. And we have in our arsenal faith, hope and love, and among our ammunition is prayer, and they all as their source and object the king of kings, the lion of Judah! But in any struggle, commitment and perseverance is crucial. When we slow down in our momentum towards Heaven, there is always the danger of letting distractions divert us from our goal -- to see the face of God and live!

Regnare Christum volumus: we want Christ to reign!

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