Decide where your heart is; decide what you believe and commit to it. That challenge appears over and over in the gospels. Some understand Jesus’ words as an effort to elicit statements of personal loyalty from his followers. But Jesus’ words don’t rise from a desire to have others second his ideas or a need to shore up his self-confidence. For Jesus, the goal was always to advance God’s Future.
Realization of God’s promise of a world fulfilled relied on his followers’ faith in it – a faith strong enough to create in its adherents a willingness to reflect God’s love in their relationships with a world that did not.
Though the 6th chapter of Matthew’s gospel inserts the lot of those trusting followers into a lovely picture of lily-filled fields, ten chapters later the same gospel promises us a cross to bear.
As the saying goes: Christian faith ain’t powder puff; if you’re going to play, play all the way or don’t suit up.
That’s a difficult thing for us to accept sometimes. Since, as we constantly proclaim, we are a Christian nation and, despite those who see Catholics bullied on every street corner, we comprise 25% of the American population, being Christian and Catholic is a very socially acceptable thing. We can easily overlook the fact that true faith entails a radical commitment to a drastically different way of living. Loving our enemies and sharing the lot of the poor until they aren’t poor anymore isn’t an oh-by-the-way element of life.
“You cannot serve two masters” isn’t a statement about choosing between following someone obviously good and someone obviously evil. It’s a way of saying that though we can be casual Christians in our society, we can’t casually live the faith of Jesus. It simply won’t work.