Solemnity of All Saints, 1 November 2013
How often have I proclaimed the Gospel to others with words, telling them that the Kingdom of God is like a pearl of great price which is worth selling everything for? Yet this proclamation of mine has no power to convert souls unless my life resonates with my words.
I profess that I have encountered the crucified and risen Christ. I profess that I have encountered Him, that I love Him, and that I have chosen to follow Him. So did Simon Peter when he dropped his nets to follow Jesus. Peter was sincere. He even recognised Jesus for who he was – the Messiah, the Son of God. Yet knowing that and knowing Jesus personally and intimately did not prevent Peter from quailing and denying Christ. He had thought that he would be ready to die for Christ, but he wasn’t. It was only after Pentecost that Peter was able to really pick up his cross, deny himself, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. And Peter was, in the end, able to give up his life totally as Jesus did.
I am on the same journey as Peter was. I have met Jesus. I have fallen in love. I have dropped my nets and made the decision to follow him. I have even prayed many times that his will be done in my life, and told him that I will be his disciple no matter what comes. But does the reality of my life fully reflect the commitment that I have made? Far from it, I’m afraid. Like Peter, I still quail time and again when I come up against resistance, especially when I am faced with how much I have to change and die to myself.
The instinct to hold on to my life is still strong. My ego’s demands still hold sway such that I suffer greatly when its needs are not met. An inordinate need to be understood, acknowledged, appreciated, and loved still grip me tightly when I try to move outwards in self-giving love. Whenever these chains tug at me, the pain alerts me that I am not yet completely free. Christ is still in the process of liberating me.
I am powerless to break these chains that bind me. The more I struggle with them in impatience and frustration, the more I hurt myself. But if I believe that Christ will free me as he has promised, I can sit down quietly even in my prison cell, in my chains, and be at peace. For Christ will come and liberate me. He always does. Rarely does it happen in a way or timing I expect, but that only teaches me to surrender more to His sovereignty. I am called simply to let God’s love reach me in my prison cell.
Love embraces me even while I am in chains. It is this Truth that sets me free.