What Do I Need?
MK 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 27, 2015
A few years ago, I helped plan the 60th anniversary of a friend’s entry into her religious community. Of course, for her, the high point of the evening was Mass. Still, we wanted to have fun because Sr. Marianita loved to have fun. Keeping in mind that it was her 60th, we looked back to the ‘60’s and took some liberties with The Beatles song: All you need is love! After the final blessing, the entire gathering did their best to sound like John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I don’t think we would make it on America’s Got Talent, but we certainly bellowed out with great gusto the verses…All you need is love! All you need is love! All you need is love! Love is all you need!
That song was entirely appropriate to the occasion…even in church! After all, what would possess a young girl to leave her home and family…forego the probability of marriage and children…take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience…live a regimented life in close quarters with other women, working long hours for no personal gain or profit, and drastically limiting her freedom of movement? The song answered the question perfectly…Love is all you need…to commit your entire adult life to the service of God and to the service of others.
It takes an extraordinary amount of love to be a good disciple of Jesus Christ. While not everyone is called to the extreme and demanding commitment that is required by religious life, all of the Baptized should aspire to the kind of self-abandonment that Jesus describes in this Sunday’s Gospel.
It is nothing short of horrifying to think of mutilating or blinding oneself in order to avoid sin. Yet, our history is full of examples of Christians who gave up more than a foot, or hand, or eye for the sake of God. Mothers and fathers might find it easier to grasp the concept of this total self-giving. Parents are called daily…multiple times…to put themselves and their own personal interests and desires second to their children. A good parent would give their very life to spare their child. Love is that powerful.
Approaching the issue in a different way, we might recall how Jesus responded to the question: Rabbi…what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus’s response was basically this: All you need is love! All you need is love! All you need is love! Love is all you need!