Dear friends of Christ!
In the Gospel of Matthew Our Blessed Lord reminds us of some part of us that we neglect most, our soul. “See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” Somebody said that gyms, fitness clubs etc. cash on people who lose their faith. Then they start focusing on their body as if this care were to guarantee they would live forever or at least a long and fit life. Last year I watched an interview with an athlete who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That what he said: “I don’t understand how it could happen to me. I have taken great care of myself. I have exercised 5 days a week. I have eaten healthy food. I have had regular checkups. I don’t understand how it could happen to me.” Poor man, not just because he got cancer but because he bought false theory about what is important in life. People want to feel secure, that’s why they force themselves into thinking that if they stay healthy they are safe. However Jesus uses strong words to wake us up from this daydreaming: “Fool. This very night the demand will be made for your soul.” Brothers and sisters, ask yourself today: What is the state of my soul?” Or maybe ask yourself another question: “What have I been doing to make Jesus delight in my soul?”
The Letter to the Hebrews we heard a few minutes ago recalled Abraham’s journey to the Promised Land, the land we call now the Holy Land. The Bible describes it as the land flowing with milk and honey. Well, after hearing that one may think about packing his belongings and moving there as it sounds like a good holiday resort. How misleading it is!
Let’s start with basics. Where does milk come from? We say from cows but the inhabitants of Israel got their milk from goats. What is honey? We say that it is sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The children of Abraham would make big eyes hearing that as for them honey was syrup made of dates. But it is not the only misunderstanding we have about the Holy Land. It is the land of challenge and hard work. God didn’t give Abraham a piece of Paradise but he gave him land where one needs to work hard. This physical hard work was to prepare them for working hard on their souls. Jesus has never said that keeping soul holy is easy. On contrary he said: “See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” What does it mean? It means that instead dreaming about better circumstances for me to grow in my faith, to develop my soul, I say: “Jesus Christ is my personal trainer. I listen to what he has got to say about developing soul and I am going to put it into practice.” Just think about a guy going to gym, listening to his trainer’s advice and sitting for two hours on the bench believing that he is going to improve somehow. Nothing is going to improve. That’s why Jesus said that only those who listen
to his words and do what he says will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. “See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” It is not a call to idleness but to hard work on one’s soul. Remember Abraham and his descendants living in the Holy Land. The Land where people work hard or perish. Abraham stayed there not because the country was attracting but because he trusted God. He took God’s advice seriously.
However don’t think that you need to work on your soul just for yourself, to get you to heaven. It would be very selfish. Abraham and his children were sent to the Holy Land not simply to find a sure way to heaven but to become the light for other nations. The plan was that others looking at their holy way of life would say: “That’s it. Now I know where the true God is and how to follow him.” If we believe in Christ it means that we are to be the light for the world, so that people watching us could be drawn to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Do you think that it is too much, that it is for Pope Francis, bishops, priests and nuns? Let’s go back to the Gospel where Jesus says: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the Kingdom.” Now I think about the followers of Christ in Antioch where they were called Christians for the first time. How many of them were there? Some scholars say around 50 but it seems to be too optimistic, most likely there were 20 of them. However those 20 believers lived such a life that the pagans in the city had no doubts that that group practiced what Christ taught. Look, today we are called Christians because of those 20 unknown people whose life left no doubt to outsiders what their values were. But let’s ask ourselves whether those around us, watching our way of life can say that we listen and do what Christ says. You know what? If somebody goes to gym and does what his personal trainer tells him the person starts physically changing. If one goes to church and listens and does what Christ tells him the person’s soul changes and it becomes evident like it was in Antioch but the secret is this: you need to put your heart into it. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Otherwise you will be like a person going to gym and sitting on the bench waiting for a miracle. Two thousand years ago pagans in Antioch watching that small group of 20 followers of Jesus called them Christians. What about us? Maybe people watching our way of life ask: “Is he/she a Christian? Really? You must be joking!”
Let me finish with a word to the young people. Years ago when I was teaching in a high school I asked a pupil if he wanted to become a priest. He answered: “No, because everybody has a go at priests!” Well, I am not sure if everybody has a go at priests but let me share with you what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. When I flew into Warsaw I discovered that my bag was missing so I went to the office to report it. It has never happened to me before so I was surprised to see a dozen or so people queuing up to the desk. However what surprised me even more was to see how rude and nasty the people were. I did feel for the clerks at the desk. It wasn’t their fault that the bags were missing, they were there to assist the passengers but they had to put up with the passengers abusing them. One could say: what an ungrateful occupation, I would never work there. However thank God that some people want to do the job because otherwise there wouldn’t be any assistance given to the passengers. We can say that a similar experience priests have. Those who have a go on them usually lost their soul and they take it out on those who remind them of the loss. It may look like an unrewarding occupation to deal with such people it is necessary that there are still those who remind people of today that a human person does have a soul and ask the most crucial question: “What do you do for your soul?”