Sunday Gospel Reflection for September 8
The following is a passage selected from The Refugee From Heaven as an accompaniment to the Sunday Gospel reading Luke 14:25-33.
When He had gone, Simon dropped to his knees in the sand. One by one his men followed suit. They prayed that God would accept their pledge to search for the Messiah, and they pleaded with Him to make them His bodyguard, His providers, and the worshipers of His love. Eager to begin their search, they hoped God would chart their course so that success might at last be theirs.
Simon at length returned home. In answer to the question in Rosa's dark eyes, he took her into his confidence and enthusiastically told her of the wonderful talk Jesus had given, and how he and his men had pledged themselves to leave all earthly possessions and careers and go in search of the Messiah.
Icy fingers plunged deep into Rosa's heart and then just as suddenly vanished. At that instant she was drawn into the same loving grace that God had given to Simon. She begged to be allowed to see and hear Jesus, too, the next time He spoke. Simon readily gave his permission, but asked her to stay back out of sight. Rosa promised happily.
But, what to tell Andrew? For the time being, Simon did not know, and he asked Rosa not to say anything to him about the incidents and the decisions of that night. Andrew was certain not to approve.
Rosa kept the secrets of both men deeply within her heart. She prayed constantly, during the days that followed, for God's guidance over them, for surely both could not be right.
A strange restlessness, coupled with a loneliness they did not understand, descended upon Simon and his men during the following week. They agreed that they missed the company of Jesus. But why should this be true of a man they had known only such a short time?
Finally, Simon decided to go in search of Him. He found Him in Mount Carmel talking to a group of men, explaining the views of the prophets on earthquakes, floods, and the end of the world. None of these questions and answers were of the slightest interest to Simon. All he wanted to hear, and to learn, was the New Law of Love, and how he could begin his search for the Messiah. He firmly believed that such a man of wisdom and oratorical powers as Jesus was, must be a great prophet of God.
Jesus recognized him almost at once in the crowd and waved a welcome to him, “Simon, come nearer! I hoped you would come in search of Me. I have missed you. Rest here on this bench while I finish with the question just presented to Me.”
It was dark by the time Jesus and Simon, arm in arm, reached the beach once more. The driftwood fires were lighted and the men huddled about them for the night was cold. To a man, they greeted Jesus enthusiastically.
This time the Nazarene's sermon treated of obedience to the Messiah. “Each individual soul,” He said, “must rise to a state of interior peace above the anxious bodily interests of intemperance, lust, impatience, and avarice. Self-sacrifice and self-restraint are easy when God's love is the motive that absorbs a soul for its eternal gain.”
As Jesus talked, Rosa-Maria made her way quietly through the darkness to a position just beyond the crowd of holy listeners. There she knelt, in the shadows, listening intensely to the Nazarene's voice, which blended with the hum of the inky black waves that splashed near her feet. She believed what He said and she instantly loved His voice and His calm kindness. But above all these virtues, she loved the assurance He gave her soul, the assurance not to fear God but to love Him. As she listened, she understood why Simon was willing to sell all of his possessions and leave her alone. She, too, would like to leave all cares and go in search of the living Messiah.
At last the sermon was over, and as Simon walked slowly home he was joined by Rosa. Both were filled with gladness and peace; both felt the new birth of God's love within their souls.
As they entered their home they saw Andrew on his knees caught up in the deepest prayer of quiet. Silently they knelt beside him. Andrew prayed for wisdom in regard to John's teaching, while Simon prayed for the grace with which to find the Messiah. Rosa prayed for the intentions of both men and for the hidden desires which they kept from each other. Was it possible, she asked herself, as she looked from one to the other, that both could be right?