October 4, 2017
Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, Religious
The Gospel Today
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Reflection (Sem. Keith R. Buenaventura)
The Gospel reading invites me to reflect on how the seminary is helping me to discern and follow Jesus in my daily struggles and difficulties. To be in the seminary is to cooperate fully with formation so as to attain the desired goal. The formation aims not so much to turn me, a seminarian, into a priest someday, but to allow me to grow in my knowledge of myself and to encounter personally the God who constantly calls me in prayer. While it is a joy-filled experience, it is also about crucifying my own will and patiently surrendering it to God’s painful cutting and pruning. Ultimately, the seminary is not so much a place but a special time of grace, of preparing for a future mission whatever it may be.
The task of discerning God’s call, for instance, could be quite discouraging, and the actual choosing is itself a very long process. It is not a one-time thing. Choosing to love and serve God in a particular way is a decision that has to be made daily. So even today, my being in the seminary, for instance, is something I need to choose every waking moment. Do I still want to be here? Is this where I could most lovingly serve God at this point in my life? Christ does not promise a bed of roses when I said that I will follow Him.
As I now see why prayer without action is so fruitless, it is only in and through prayer and action that I can become intimately connected with Jesus. I find strength to join him on his way by being a contemplative-in-action. Saint Francis of Assisi saw the image of Christ through a life of poverty, humility and prayer. To contemplate on the will of God is to act upon it. Like Saint Francis, following Christ is walking in the footsteps of Christ. It is difficult yet fulfilling, challenging yet life-changing.