A Vincentian View: To Be Worthy of the Lord
As so often happens in Scripture, care for one’s family emerges as the highest and most rigorous of human loves; it becomes the measure for any human relationship. Yet, the Lord’s invitation to be specially “his” is presented as more powerful and pervasive. No family ties of whatever intimacy are allowed to be stronger than our attention to the Lord. Listen again to the Gospel for the coming Sunday:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
The love of one’s family sets the bar for the greatness of love. And the Lord can be measured against that field. Is it possible that Vincent makes the same point even more graphically?
“God so earnestly desires you to follow and carry out the vocation to which He’s calling you that, as one great saint has said, if your father and mother were to throw themselves across the threshold to prevent your departure, step over them.” (VdP, CCD 9, L.4. “Fidelity to Rising and Mental Prayer, 2 August 1640. P. 23)
The point is, that when one chooses to take up the mission, one chooses to do so with one’s whole life and for the whole of one’s life. It is a choice freely made, but a choice, once made, that binds us for the effective carrying forth of our calling.
Those who choose Christ must make a powerful and exclusive decision for him, a decision which makes no concessions. We can point to the biblical lessons of the rich young man who could not surrender all to follow Jesus (Matt 19:16-22), or the example of Nicodemus who comes to Jesus at night (Jn 3:2) because he is afraid to be seen with him during the day, or the dialogues which Jesus has with those who speak about following him but do so tentatively.
The concept of the total gift of self suggests the model of the Blessed Mother. She makes the total gift of herself to the Lord in her decision at the Annunciation. She will carry out God’s will in her life for the whole of her life without qualification or exception.
When one gives oneself to the Lord, there can be no holding back. To follow Jesus involves one in the total gift of self. But it is not a solo pursuit. The promise is not to follow the Lord independently, but to do so as a member of a community. Together we live our commitment to the Lord and all that which flows from being together. We can point to the Gospel stories of the sending forth of the disciples two-by-two (Mk 6:7) and the fact that Jesus promises to be present within the community “where two or three are gathered” in his name (Mt 18:20).
We pray to be worthy of the Lord as we give ourselves faithfully to his service as individuals and as a family.