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Following the Lord

The story is told about a man who quit playing the slot machine, and started putting his coins in the vending machine beside it instead. When asked why, his response was, “With the vendo machine, I never lose. I always win!”

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In today’s Gospel (Mk 10, 17-30), Jesus tells us the formula for true winning: “Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come, follow me.” For those who love the world, this is the formula for losing.

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Strange are the ways of God, and the cross is a paradox to many. The way of the cross is stupidity to many, beyond worldly logic, so to say, but the challenge and the invitation remains; “Come follow me.”

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To attain eternal life, Jesus tells us to follow the 10 Commandments of God, but He goes on to say: “Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” He wants not just the observance of the law, but our very hearts, a personal relationship with Him.

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Where is your heart? Where your treasure is, there is your heart. The reason why we cannot give our hearts and truly follow the Lord is simply because we are so attached to our worldly treasures and possessions, wealth, persons, public image, achievements, including our ideas, opinions, and self-righteousness. Following the Lord means letting go, and letting God.

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We ask ourselves today: What have I given up for the Lord? What have I sacrificed? We all still have so much to learn about humility, sacrifice, and true giving … mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

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One of the hardest questions I had to answer was when a nine-year-old boy asked me by phone: “Why did my father die? He was only 42. I prayed so hard. Why did not God answer my prayer?” All I could tell him was that I really don’t know. I did not have an intelligent explanation. All I could do was to pray with him. And somehow, by God’s grace, he experienced God’s love, and hope that he will meet his father again in eternal life.

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The reward for following the Lord is “out of this world”—eternal life in the age to come! But the reward is also here now on earth for those who sacrifice for the Lord and His Kingdom: “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up a house or brother or sister or mother or father, or children or lands for my sake or for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age.” Amen. I am a witness to this!

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Take note that persecution is part of discipleship. Whenever we take a stand for the Lord and for the Gospel, there will be people who criticize, intimidate, bash, and even harm or kill us. If there is no persecution in a disciple’s life, maybe he/she is not really a disciple, or he/she is not really proclaiming the message of the Gospel.

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I am not a perfect disciple. I have faults and weaknesses. But I keep trying, and keep on trusting in God’s love and mercy. I still have so much to learn about love and true humility. I am a work in progress, hoping that when I finally meet the Lord in heaven, I hope I can somehow say, like St. Peter, that I “have given up everything, and followed you.” It’s a long shot, but that is the goal, that is the mission, some way, somehow.

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Reminder from St. Padre Pio: “The rosary is the weapon for these times.”

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A moment with the Lord: Lord, help us to truly and joyfully follow you. Amen.

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[email protected]

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Moments

Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, SVD

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