Psalm: 89:19-52
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:61)

Oh look another uncomfortable bit of Scripture….awesome! 😀 [insert sarcasm here]

Seriously though, this is one of Jesus’ teaching that makes me distinctly uncomfortable. I don’t know about you, but I look back all the time. At past relationships, past work-experiences, past times where I was genuinely happy.

There are lots of times that I take my focus off of Jesus and place it somewhere else. If my mind is always meandering…how can I hope to do anything of value???

Now the good Protestant in me says..of cooooooourse we can’t do anything of value….we are all depraved sinners beyond the pale in need of Grace….but at the same time, I ask myself whether Jesus can really ask me to be unwavering in my determination. And the answer I’ve stumbled upon is that yes, he can. 🙂

This isn’t to say that we won’t screw up multiple times in our efforts to follow our Lord…..but rather he has given us the Holy Spirit to put us back on the right path, through repentance.

Each time we confess our sins to God with a humble and contrite heart, we are given what St. Symeon calls the Baptism of Tears.

The fantastic and radical news of the Gospel is that Christ expects us to follow him with our whole heart, mind, soul and body. He knows that we–as finite, sinful beings–are going to need help along the way. We are not perfect and therefore he has sent his Spirit as our Advocate and guide.

To borrow from the Patristic reading tonight, St. Cyril puts it this way:

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit.

Repentance is what allows us to see God. It is the process through which we can make peace with the past behind us and not look back on our mistakes. Each time we turn to the LORD in earnest, we are given the strength to walk forward and not look back. What was old is now made new….and what was once unable to do anything is now inspired and gifted to do things far greater than could ever be asked for and imagined.

Jesus tells us that even if we fall flat on our faces, we can cry out his name and keep walking the path of discipleship in faith. He never leaves us without hope and comfort. Amen, Alleluia! +