Today's Gospel: Luke 5:27-32
“And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.” (Luke 5:28)
At the beginning of this Lenten season, we are focused on living a life of increased prayer, fasting, and abstinence. Perhaps we have picked something to “give up” for Lent, or maybe we have selected a habit or practice to add into our daily life.
For me, Lent is a time of detachment. I try to spring clean the house and clear away the extra clutter. I give away bags of gently-used clothing; I help my kids sift through their toys to donate; I even go through my paper and computer files in an effort to let go of my attachment to things, both big and small.
I like to think that I am a pretty detached person, but it is probably more relative than I’d like it to be. Sure, I’m detached from some things, but to leave everything behind would be pretty difficult. What about my family photos? My morning coffee? My relationships? My beloved blanket that my grandmother knitted?
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to complete detachment from material possessions. Many of the saints, including St. Ignatius of Loyola, reinforce this Gospel message in many of their writings and teachings, and most certainly in how they lived their lives.
Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, teaches,
“man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God ... And the other things on the face of the earth are created ... that they may help him in attaining the end [Heaven] for which he is created.” He goes on to say that “man is to use them [created things] as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it. For this, it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things ...” (23).
This is a part of the Christian walk that is not always easy. Detachment can be very hard.
But Jesus has a purpose for His call to leave everything and follow Him. He knows that our materials possessions can weigh us down, can make us too comfy in this world, and can ultimately keep us away from Him, even the slightest bit away from Him.
So, He calls us, just like He called Levi in today’s Gospel, to detach and to follow Him more closely. For we’re all sinners in need of saving, and that is why He came in the first place.
As hard as detachment is, what I’ve discovered (through a slower approach than Levi’s) is that the more I detach from my material possessions, the more I am attached to Jesus and the spiritual possessions found in Him. And those treasures will last for all eternity in Heaven!
This Lent, what are you planning on “giving up”? What are some ways you can practice detachment in your life? How can your “leaving it behind” draw you closer to the Lord?
Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us to repentance this Lent. Thank You for showing us what we need to give up in order to follow You more closely.
Lord, it’s not always easy to leave behind our possessions or our bad habits, so we ask for Your help on our journey. Thank You for your gentleness and patience. You are so good to us, and we love You! Help us to love You even more! Amen.
Copyright 2014 Sarah Damm