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Dead and Buried


“Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence, nor usurped, but His by essence and by nature.” ~ Saint Cyril of Alexandria

We embark on a short journey through the Book of Amos this week, the shepherd-turned-prophet who was called to go from the southern kingdom of Judah to evangelize those in the north. He is what we might call a Prophet of Justice, sent to encourage the people in his midst to repent and pursue resolute lives. To hate evil and love good. To desire true justice for all, especially the marginalized and downtrodden. To assist in bringing this justice about.

Amos was not a prophet by trade so to speak. He was, as he put it, a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees (Amos 7-14).Yet he was called by God to prophesy, to leave behind his sheep and well-dressed trees, and to place his trust in God. To have faith in the fact that the Holy Spirit would give him the words to speak when those words were needed (Matthew 10:16-23).. Our Gospel today in fact (Matthew 8:18-22) reminds us that following God is not easy.

“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” This was the seemingly reasonable request from a man who appeared poised to become one of Jesus’s disciple. “Follow me,” Jesus tells him, “and let the dead bury their dead.”

We know from numerous Gospel Passages that Jesus always had laser-like focus on the Mission In today’s passage, we get a glimpse of how ethically demanding discipleship can be. There is no way to soft-peddle Jesus’ words here. I certainly will not try. They compel us to make a decision: Are we of this world or are we of God’s Kingdom? Is being a child of God merely one of many attributes we assign to ourselves or is it our genuine identity? Is religion and the mission attached to it all-consuming or merely ornamental?

It’s a matter of discerning whether you are simply and peripherally involved or fully committed. Evangelist Billy Graham said “Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, and seek to follow Him every day. Don't be swayed by the false values and goals of this world, but put Christ and His will first in everything you do.” As the old expression goes, the difference between involvement and commitment can be found on a breakfast plate whenever one orders ham and eggs;

The hen is involved but the pig is committed.

Noted evangelist and author Charles Stanley explains that “Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They'll stay faithful as long as it's safe and doesn't involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” Yet we know God calls us to something richer, something far more noble. Normally our love for God and our love for family don’t come into conflict. But this is a sort of spiritual exercise, an experiment. What if it came down to God or my family? Whom would I choose?

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Christians can never and will never be well adjusted in today’s culture. Something will always be off kilter, out of sync. Ours is a culture that is by and large very far from Christ. The truth is not held in high esteem. Far too many do not even know the truth. Jesus is truth, the word ~ or truth ~ made flesh. To know him is to know truth. To live according to his will is true freedom, a foretaste of Heaven for all those who have the courage to seek out the narrow path

To follow Jesus is to bury all that is dead in you, all those things that contribute to you spiritual malaise and ultimate spiritual demise. Hatred, excess, vengeance, certainly pride, selfishness and vanity.

I leave you with the words of the man whose quote also kicked off today’s Meditation, Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the great Bishop and Doctor of our Church whose Memorial we celebrate today. He said “From Christ and in Christ, we have been reborn through the Spirit in order to bear the fruit of life; not the fruit of our old, sinful life but the fruit of a new life founded upon our faith in him and our love for him. Like branches growing from a vine, we now draw our life from Christ, and we cling to his holy commandment in order to preserve this life.”

Saint Cyril of Alexandra, pray for us. That we may vibrantly and unflinchingly commit to and live the truth today and always.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)

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