Grace to you!
A pastor worked tirelessly to fundraise for the building of his parish church. He raised all the money needed and started to build the church from scratch. Unfortunately, towards the completion of the project, he developed some health issues that prevented him from finishing the project. Another pastor was appointed to complete the project. The new pastor didn't raise any funds, draw or amend any construction plan. He disbursed the checks for the completion of the project.
Unfortunately, during the dedication of the church, the new pastor never acknowledged the unmatched contributions of his predecessor. He put only his name on the marble plaque. It was crushing to the sick priest, an unfortunate, unfair, and bad pastoral example. However, the hurt priest chose to let go to be free from the hurting memory. According to him, it was a painful lesson in detachment. He found healing by letting go.
My reason for telling this true story isn't to endorse such unfair treatment of this priest. Justice should be done. Instead, it is to show that there is personal healing in letting go when it is necessary. Letting go of our pet projects, especially when we have invested so much in it, is one of the toughest things to do. Yet, we need to do so when there is no better alternative.
Many times, people are stuck in a chain of bad decisions and investments simply because they are not ready to cut their losses and move on. Some are trapped in unhealthy relationships because they aren't prepared to let go of one aspect or another of the satisfaction they receive from such relationships. Those in abusive relationships sometimes get trapped because they believe they have no better alternatives.
Letting go, leaving behind certain seemingly comfortable situations, feelings, or things which may not be necessary to our happiness, is a great spiritual practice. It pleases the Lord. Breakthrough happens because we choose to let go of certain things.
As I read the Lord’s invitation to Levi, I’m fascinated by Levi’s response. Scripture says that when the Lord told Levi, the tax collector, to follow him, he left everything behind and followed him (Lk 5:27-28).
Discipleship of the Lord is a positive offering of oneself to the Lord. In discipleship, one is already making oneself a sacrifice of praise. In it, we leave a lot of things behind to hold on to the most important things.
Leaving everything behind isn't an easy thing for people who are comfortable where they are. It isn't easy for people who hang on to a particular idea that may be fascinating but not consistent with their unique call in life. You recall those areas or places or services where you feel you have invested everything. Do you know how difficult it is to leave them behind and move on even when hanging does not do you any good?
It takes courage and humble disposition to hear the gentle Lord propose a way that may not sound like impressive, and yet we follow him. It takes courage to leave our comfort zone. In such is the practice of virtue. Levi shows us that in leaving the things we are attached to behind, we are free to follow the Lord in the way that pleases him.
I pray that during this fourth day of Lent, we humbly leave behind those attachments, pleasures, or things in which we are so invested that draw us away from righteous ways. May we offer them up for the higher cause of service of God and our neighbor. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday After Ash Wednesday. Readings: Is 58:9-14; Lk 5:27-32]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .