Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"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;
and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Periodically I quit eating sugar. I did it again on Ash Wednesday of this year. I'm pretty happy with the result. Fifteen pounds disappeared from the bathroom scale; some people remark about the weight loss.
But I've done this before and I don't think it will last. Even at sixty-eight, to go the rest of my life without "kid food" (sugar) seems like a long time.
Inevitably, I will sample the dessert tray. It might start with the "no sugar desert" or the "artificially sweetened." It will progress to "just one bite, just a taste!" Not long after the full blown dessert, the sweeter, richer, thicker, chocolatier, the better! And those lost fifteen pounds will be found.
I meet twice a week with Veterans who have issues of substance abuse: alcoholism and drug abuse. Periodically I show them an image of walking man. It's a series of silhouettes from crawling infant to walking adult to adult with walker.
Walking, I remind them, is the hardest thing we ever learn. It requires great strength and flexibility of every joint from the toes through the neck. The graph, depicting the span of one's lifetime, shows how the head descends from its place above the shoulders to a level plane with them, and sometimes lower. The head is very heavy; its high place above the shoulders challenges the aging body. A lifetime can be a very long time to maintain one's strength and upright resolution; whether you're maintaining your strength or abstaining from sugar.
It is never easy to be a human being. Old folks tell me it gets harder. The head that has fallen to level with the shoulders might never regain its high position.
Jesus warns us, "...whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." If you don't think you should have to carry a cross; if you think your years, achievements, sacrifices and sufferings have earned you an exemption, "you are not worthy of me."
He's very serious about that.
I find the Prayer of Saint Francis helpful. A daily recitation reminds me that my life is not about me; there is no reason I should have it easier than others, not even those who are younger. If I don't exactly rise to the occasion following that prayer, I can at least sit and listen to another's story and skip the dessert today. That's more satisfying than the richest chocolate.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.