When I think about the line from Mark that says, “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first”, I can’t help but think about what I see at the end of mass every week. The communion lines begin, and people trickle out of the church after they receive communion. As the vessels are being cleansed and the ministers are preparing for the final prayers after parishioners have received the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, more begin to leave. I’ve even seen them cut in front of the procession so they can bless themselves with Holy Water before exiting the church. Yes, you will be the first ones out of the church, and out of the parking lot, but I must wonder if that is the end of the firsts that you will be receiving in your spiritual reality.
We are expected to give up everything and follow Jesus, but what have we given up? Do we still believe that finding the best seat at our favorite restaurant after mass is worth leaving mass early as we miss the final blessing, and in no means are we honoring our procession of Priests, Deacons, and ministers as they exit the church. Are we ignoring the needs of others so we can satisfy our own desires and wants? It’s time to take stock in our life as a follower of Christ and truly decide what it is we are missing on our journey to “follow him.”
As disciples of Christ, we know that there is an amazing reward at the end of our earthly road, but at what cost? Are we sacrificing what we should, being present to the downtrodden, lonely or sick, and loving unconditionally those who truly are in need? Have we given up everything and followed him? Are we willing to accept the persecutions that will come for us in our dedication to the Lord? We need to realize “enough” in our lives, and we need to know that when “enough” becomes “too much”, it’s time to make a change. Stop trying to be first – better – richer – prettier… If there is a possibility of being the last one in Heaven to close the gate, please let it be me! God bless you all!
Patty Masson is the Director of Adult Formation and Evangelization at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, Texas.