This evening, I returned to church at Church of the Ascension. It's only been three months since my last visit, but this summer has seen enough change that it felt like an eon. The Gospel tonight was Jesus’ advice to the disciples that they should “cut off” any part of them that causes them to stumble, whether an eye, a hand or a foot. It spoke to me about how important it is to Jesus that we learn to shed that which holds us back in our journey. There’s a real ruthlessness about that in the Gospel; he tells us to leave our possessions behind, take only the one cloak and walking stick, and “hate” our own families in order to follow him completely.
I used to mock the Catholic fasting during Lent: I felt that if something was worth giving up for Lent, then why not give it up permanently? However, there’s something to their practice of sacrifice. We can’t be everything to everyone. And I do wonder what it is that might be holding me back from being completely loyal to my faith. If there was one thing I wish I could cut off, it would be my own anxiety and worry, which I believe causes me to stumble in my faith.
“Be still and know that I am God,” I have heard, and I repeat that advice so often to myself when I am troubled. If I could cut off or shed any one thing, it would be that anxiety, and tendency towards easy distraction. I would pray that in learning to be still, I would find myself talking to God less and hearing Him more.