In our Gospel reading for today, after Jesus has entered Jerusalem, He goes to the Temple. And He proceeds to drive out all those who are selling things. He also begins to teach every day in the Temple area. And Luke tells us that while he is doing this, the leaders of the people are seeking to put Him to death, “but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on to his words.”
Luke’s account brings up a question: “What do we hang on to?” Do we hang on to Jesus’ words, or something else? In our society, today is known as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. It can be easy to hang on to word of the latest sale or the best deal. After all, there is shopping that needs to be done.
But even when we realize that the things associated with the holiday shopping season are not what are most important, it may be good to keep asking the question – What do we really hang on to for guidance or inspiration?
In our first reading from Revelation, the author has a vision in which he is told to take a scroll and eat it. He is told that it will first taste sweet, but afterward it will taste sour. The sweetness comes because the scroll indicates God’s ultimate victory. The sourness comes because there are predictions of suffering before that happens. I think we can be tempted to hang on only to those of Jesus’ words that taste “sweet” to us, and not those that challenge, or taste “sour” to us. But we need to hang on Jesus’ words of forgiveness and compassion and mercy and love towards others, even of enemies, as well as when Jesus comforts us and promises us salvation.
If we can hang on to the truth of God’s love for us, we can hang on to Jesus’ call to follow Him, even when it involves taking up our cross. We know that no matter how heavy our crosses may seem, they are not the last word. God’s love will overcome all! May we have the faith to hang on to that!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.