“Teacher, 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.”The Gospel of Matthew:8:18-22
I didn’t plan on going to Mass this morning and usually I don’t go to daily Mass at all. I initially came into town in order to take care of business and the usual domestic stuff. The Bank was closed until 10am. Being the early bird that I am, I made the casual decision to wander around the town for a bit before coming back.
In the process of doing so all I could think about was the diaconate and this desire I have to leave my town and go to the city of my ancestors, Limerick. I have this thought in my head that Limerick is more conservative and religious than this forsaken place I’d probably be better off there.
I was anticipating that my application for the diaconate, once they read my horrible educational upbringing and dodgy work history, they would not proceed with it. “Anytime I interact with the Church, things blow up in my face, it’s Gods will, can’t be His Will that I be a Deacon surely? We’ll see. I don’t like it here, it doesn’t make sense that I be a deacon somewhere I’m discontent to be.”
I planned to use the bathroom in the local shopping mall and then visit the Church for a quiet prayer until the bank opened. The Lords timing was amazing because as I walked in out came the priest and everyone stood up. Even as I entered the pew the priest and myself made the sign of the Cross at the same time as each other. I normally make the sign of the cross when entering the pew.
I took note of this timing of the Lord which is always impeccable. I said to myself, “Oh, it’s Mass. I don’t normally go to Mass during the day, the timing is weird and the Lord is up to something. I’ll know when we get to the readings.”
The first reading was all about Sodom and Gomorrah. Later in his homily the priest would revisit this and he said that sometimes the Lord calls us to go into Sodom and Gomorrah and be of service to the people of that town. It was a strange feeling but considering my previous meditations as I strolled around the town I love to hate so well. . . I couldn’t help but notice the Lord speaking to me through this priest.
It’s funny because that’s the term I use with my wife for the town I live in. I call it “Sodom and Gommorah” in conversation from time to time and so this is the Lord using the terminology I use in order to reach out to me. It all fit so perfectly and the Lord is full of humor.
The Gospel reading was relevant also and it’s the Lord letting me know that if you want to follow me, you’re going to have to forget about where you live and lay your head. That’s no easy task because many of us have attachments that prevent us from following the Lord. These attachments keep us grounded and settled in one frame of mind making it impossible to follow Jesus. It may be an attachment to a physical place or an attachment to a sinful way of life doesn’t matter. Either way both attachments keep our hearts far from the Lord.
It’s interesting that the Lord uses the word “fox” to illustrate his point about those who belong to the world. He uses the same word against the very secular King Herod and says, “give that fox this message”. This is because foxes are considered a sly and clever animal. Clever people of the world know how to deal with it in a shrewd way to get what they want out of life. They bed down for the night in the fox hole of their addiction to worldly pleasures. The birds in my opinion, represent the minds of the rich elite who soar the skies of worldly wisdom and have for themselves the nest they’ve created that no human being can take from them.
But fox holes and nests don’t last forever, and the most recent visit to the ruin of my grandfathers castle now consumed by nature was evidence of that. The follower of Jesus has nowhere to lay his head, because the world is simply a corridor along the passage of time through which he must traversing through many spiritual battles until he reaches the light at the end.
The follower of Christ sees these worldly attachments for what they are which is to say mere distractions and illusions that mask the ultimate truth of who he is and the meaning of life. Therefore, although he may be physically settled in one town, spiritually speaking he has nowhere to lay his head for the night. The world is not his home and he’s always ready to sacrifice his life for the good of the other. He has no attachment to the fox hole or nest of life itself, but always ready to awaken every morning with a desire to battle and die in the midst of it if he must.
Foxes and birds although worlds apart from one another are nevertheless worldly creatures who belong to this fallen realm, but the son of man, although present here does not belong to it. He must learn with the grace of God to transcend all worldly affections and become a heavenly creature. In order for this to take place a spiritual revolution of the mind that results in him seeing the world for what it really is, and not what he’s always known it to be, must take place.
I found myself realizing this at Mass this morning, that I was allowing myself become consumed by my own desires and I shouldn’t do it. You see, I’d given up on any kind of life in the Church about 6 or 7 years ago because no matter how many times I’ve interacted with it, I’ve had nothing but problems. And just recently have given up on any kind of life here in this town. I’d literally gone into escapism and “time to pack your bags and head for greener pastures” mode.
Therefore I had absolutely built this idea in my head that God was calling me to lead a quiet life and just be an ordinary Joe in the world bringing people to Christ that way. I really thought that being like Lot and his wife, running away from Sodom and Gomorrah not towards it was the way to go. A new life, a new perspective, a different people and I could just start new without any trouble from the local clergy and laity and secular people here who have a great dislike for me.
I could be wrong, maybe I am being called but not here. Maybe the calling is to be lived elsewhere in the city I really want to live in? I will only though through time. I know that if I ignore the call I’ll have no peace in my life. At the same time if I say yes and there are problems (I’m not liked by the locals), at least the one without the peace will be those who have delayed Gods plans and He will leave me alone to live in peace until my time comes.
I can’t wait to die, I really can’t. It sounds bizarre to those whose minds are clung to what is natural, because such desires are supernatural and beyond the mind of men, it’s understandable such statements are perceived as strange, but I cannot wait to leave this place and in the grace of God hopefully.