In today’s readings, the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear about detachment:
From the first reading, the book of wisdom, written by a Jew who was Greek, it says:
For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
And in Matthew’s Gospel, a Jew who wrote his Gospel to Jewish Christians,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Detachment. Its all about detachment. Here are some quotes from the saints about detachment:
If they be faithful and seek no satisfaction in creatures, they pass from pure suffering to the pure love of God. But the fortunate souls who succeed thus far are very few. – St. Paul of the Cross
Oh! happy is he who can say, “I have despised the kingdom of the world, and all the glory of the time, for the love of my Lord Jesus Christ. – St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
True love is found only in complete self-forgetfulness, and it is only after we have detached ourselves from every creature that we find Jesus. – St. Therese of Lisieux
Perfection consists in renouncing ourselves, in carrying our cross, and in following Jesus Christ. Now, he who renounces himself most perfectly carries his cross the best and follows nearest to Jesus Christ is he who never does his own will, but always that of God. – St. Vincent de Paul
There are three things which I am not able to do without: food, clothing and sleep; but I can restrict them to some extent. – St. Poemen
Perhaps it is not material things we must be detached, but rather other things. One of my favorite prayers, but most difficult prayer to pray is the Litany of Humility:
|Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X
|O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved… From the desire of being extolled … From the desire of being honored … From the desire of being praised … From the desire of being preferred to others… From the desire of being consulted … From the desire of being approved … From the fear of being humiliated … From the fear of being despised… From the fear of suffering rebukes … From the fear of being calumniated … From the fear of being forgotten … From the fear of being ridiculed … From the fear of being wronged … From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I … That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease … That others may be chosen and I set aside … That others may be praised and I unnoticed … That others may be preferred to me in everything… That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
“God is truly humble,” Mother Teresa marvelled. “He comes down and uses instruments as weak and imperfect as we are. He deigns to work through us . . . to use you and me for his great work.”
If God can be humble, then we too can be humble. One “humility” is that we do not always live detached. We are unable to purge ourselves of the world. We know we should, we ought, and we try, but we cannot. True humility is accepting we do not live attached, but keep trying to live so.
When Jesus came into the world, he loved it so much that he gave his life for it. He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God. And what did he do? He made himself the Bread of Life. He became small, fragile, and defenseless for us. A bit of bread can be so small that even a baby can chew it, even a dying person can eat it.
This is humility and detachment. Allowing our ego to become so small, fragile, and defenceless. How can we do this? Paul, a man who struggled with ego too, said it well:
I can do all things through Christ, who is my strength.