The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXXI: “Of disregarding all Creatures, that we may find the Creator” (second entry)
The disciple in Kempis, at the beginning of this chapter, implores God for the grace to not allow any created person or thing to be an obstacle for him to focus solely on God. It it in this way that he knows he will find true freedom.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 16:24-28
A short, but profound, excerpt on the conditions of discipleship closes out chapter sixteen of Matthew. Denial of oneself, hardship, maybe even death, will be in store for authentic Christian. The focus must be on Christ, not worldly enticements, so that at the judgment, those who remain faithful will be repaid handsomely. Jesus concludes with a rather mysterious prophecy regarding the timing of His return.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. (Rom 6:19-22)
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)
An addict, when feeling honest — or hitting rock bottom — will admit to the slavery of his addiction. But one does not have to be a fall-down drunk or a drug-addled junkie to appreciate the effects of sin in one’s life. Any earthly vice that compels us to behave badly, to shirk our duties, or to put God, family, and friends on the back burner, is a significant problem with devastating consequences if allowed to go unchecked. Do anything for that cigarette? Don’t bother me for anything during my show? Spend hours on social media or the internet wasting time or worse? Indulge in endless combox “debates” and trashing whomever?
Freedom of choice? Or no freedom because these are not choices but obsessions?
Nothing on earth can enslave us when our primary focus is on the Lord and His will for us. But becoming “slaves of God”? We should want to be counted in that number. Paul speaks of the “yoke of slavery” of those things that will not gain us salvation. Rather, let us turn to Jesus whose “yoke is easy, and…burden light” (Mt 11:30).