Gospel for January 23, 2011 — What is Holding you Back?

Annunciation, painted by Fra Angelico (1387-14...
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The Gospel for January 23, 2011 is from Matthew 4:12-23 and focuses on Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, and James to be His apostles.  This Gospel has parallels with the First Joyful Mystery of the rosary — The Annunciation.  In that mystery, Mary accepts God’s plans for Her in being the mother of Jesus.  She accepted God’s Will and a drastically altered life much like how the fishermen in the Gospel dropped everything to follow Jesus.

In Matthew’s account of Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, and James the three men drop everything and follow Jesus without question.  They did not ask Jesus if He could come back at a better time.  They did not tell Jesus that they were not up to the task of being “fishers of men.”  They did not ask what the job would entail or what sacrifices they would need to make.  They simply left their old lives behind and followed Jesus.  Now we come to Mary.  She was living a typical village life.  She had a fiance and was maybe was looking forward to being married.  And then, out of the blue, an angel tells Her that She is not only pregnant, but pregnant with the Son of God!  Mary was probably a little shocked or scared.  And although she knew this duty was change Her life forever, She fully accepted God’s Will.

Now we come to you.  Would you be able to radically change you life if Jesus asked you to?  Luckily, the chances of us being called like Mary and the Apostles is very small.  We typically don’t need to make a snap decision to drop everything and follow Jesus.  Even those who accept the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience don’t make that decision quickly but only after years of study and meditation.  Chances are Jesus isn’t asking you to sell your home, car, and possessions and leave everything you know behind and become a missionary.   But this Gospel and rosary mystery raises the question, “Are there things in your life that prevent you from committing to God’s plans for you?”  Meditate on this question this week and take a deep look at what holds you back.  Money?  Your job?  Your social life? Drugs?  Lust?  The things that hold us back from Jesus may not be outright sinful but might be a distraction.  For example, there is nothing wrong with working hard and making a good living.  But you must be careful to strike the right balance and not have your job consume you and become more important than your relationship with God.  Pray and meditate for the knowledge to find those things in life that prevent you from fully following Jesus and for the strength to not let them have so much control over you.

I will leave you with a quotation from a little green friend of mine.  In “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” young Anakin tells Yoda that he is having dreams about the death of someone close to him. Yoda responds saying that the fear of loss leads to the Dark Side.  When Anakin asks what he is to do, Yoda advises, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”  While George Lucas probably didn’t have Matthew’s Gospel in mind when he wrote that, I think Yoda’s words relate well to this Gospel and rosary mystery.