May the grace and peace of God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you! To begin our reflection, let’s listen to some words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 8:
A scribe then approached (Jesus) and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
These would-be followers of Jesus didn’t have a grasp of something every follower of Jesus needs to have, namely that following Jesus can never be compromised, can never take second place to anything, not even a son’s solemn duty, in the Jewish law, to bury his father. These would-be followers, we might say, hadn’t faced up to the question, “what matters most?”.
Anyone should speak with caution and hesitation about a silver lining in what we are all going through right now. People are dying and people are suffering while others are sacrificing a great deal, even risking their own lives, to care for those who are sick. This is ground on which we should tread carefully.
But it is natural that we look for something positive within this experience. It may be a renewed understanding of ourselves as fragile, vulnerable people. It may be a realisation that we need each other, that we need to look after each other.
It may be too that more of us are facing up to the question “what matters most?” to us at this time and learning about what doesn’t matter so much after all.
What matters most to you? For many of us, love will top the list. The love of family and of friends in particular.
Love takes us to gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of love and for the support of loved ones will be keenly felt by many of us at this time. And love and gratitude then take us to God: for as we read in the words of St John’ first letter, love is from God and God is love.
Facing up to what matters most to us enables us to put order into the choices we make. It gives us our compass bearings. If love is what matters most, then we will want to choose what builds up love and we will want to act in a way that expresses love.
The very best guide in these choices is the life and teaching of Jesus. By following Jesus, we can be sure, we follow the way of love.
Knowing what matters most for each one of us is at the heart of discernment. Praying for the guidance to make choices in keeping with what matters most, and to know personally what distracts us from what matters most, is what living every day in a discerning way is all about.
If we face up to the question “what matters most?” and practise this discerning way of life then, we’ll be less like those would-be followers of his, with their dithering and all their excuses. Instead, we’ll be more like those first disciples who got up and followed Jesus, and did so at once.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.