When I was reflecting on these readings today, I couldn’t help but think of the short story “The Great Divorce” written by C.S. Lewis. This short allegory is about heaven and hell. Several people are invited to come up to the mountain, i.e. heaven. All they have to do is let go of that thing or person they are holding on to. The tragedy is that the narrator watches several people desire heaven, but unable to make the journey because they were not able to let go of their worldly attachments.
Our readings today challenge us to ponder this question: What are the things that we cling to today? Is it a person? Is it a place? Is it an attachment to sin, where we find ourselves praying like Saint Augustine, “Lord free me from this sin, but not yet.” All of us struggle with our own sins, and so we all can relate in some way to what Saint Augustine is saying her. Is it our possessions, our ipads, tablets, iphones, or our cars? This is major challenge for me. Sometimes I have the choice between picking up my breviary for prayer or my Ipad for checking sports. I wish I could say that 100% of the time, I chose the prayer route. But too often I cling to sports instead of my relationship with the Lord. My prayer is that I continue to grow here and continue to rely on Jesus and not to hold onto my attachment to sports.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast we celebrate today, reminds us of a profound spiritual truth. When we grasp on to the worldly things instead of our Lord, we are led into anxiety, fear, and sadness. But, when we grasp on to the Lord, when it is Jesus that centers us, regardless of the tribulations, we are filled with peace, joy, and love.
Today Jesus is asking us two things. First, he is asking us if we are willing to cling to him. Second, he is asking us if we are willing to let go of all those other attachments that keep us from him. Every one of us here wants to follow Jesus. What are the things in my own life that keep me from him?
Let us respond joyfully to this question today and say, “Jesus you are all that I need. Jesus, truly receiving you in the Eucharist is all I need. Help us Jesus to keep you at the center of our lives. Lord Jesus help me to cherish our relationship more than anything else in the world.” When we receive Jesus today let us say in our hearts, “Jesus, I have decided to be your disciple. I am going to stay with you all the way to the end. I will anchor my life in you.”