Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” (Luke 12:41)
Peter asks a good question. It is probably a question we have asked ourselves, especially when we think that we are the only ones dealing correctly with the challenge of being good. In his response, Jesus tells his disciples to always be prepared. Do not get tired of waiting for God and God’s promise. Do not say to yourself, “I have plenty of time. I will worry about being completely good later.”
The “Everyone else is doing it” defense does not work with God and with Jesus. If you are anything like me, you have probably experienced the feeling of being the only one who is doing what should be done, from time to time. You look around you, and you see people living life-styles that go counter the Gospel. One also begins to hear things that are completely inappropriate and offensive, and it seems like no one is offended by it. We sometimes begin following the crowd without really knowing where they are leading us. Being a follower of Jesus is not always an easy thing.
Recently, Fr. Sebastian MacDonald gave a presentation to the Community of Passionist Partners of San Antonio. He talked about the “Memoria Pasionis.” We Passionists are to keep alive the memory and mystery of the Passion and Death of Jesus as an expression of God’s love for us. Then, Fr. Sebastian made a reference to this memory as a “dangerous memory,” a notion that a well-known theologian, Johann Metz, coined. One of the reasons why it is a “dangerous memory” is because it puts us at risk.
It is not easy living a life at risk because of the “dangerous memory” we have of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. When we follow Jesus and commit to Gospel values, we sometimes find ourselves outside the comfort zone public opinion and unjust authority.
We would not rather stand out for doing right. We get tired of doing and saying the right things in this life. Sometimes, we feel so alone as we say no, not only to obvious things that are wrong, but to the whole culture of sin. We get tired of being watchful, of being prepared. It takes a lot of inner strength to do this.
St. Paul, in the first reading, reminds us “I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.” What we have become is the result of God’s grace, not because we merit it. It will only be by God’s grace that we will preserve to the end.
When we are tempted to give up because we are overwhelmed by the enormity to the task before us, let us remember Peter’s question and Jesus’ answer. Yes, Peter, the Gospel is not just for a select few, the “privilege ones, but for everyone. We thank God for those who have shown us the way, by their example and by their death. If we follow Jesus and follow his disciples, then we will never lose our way.
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Christ the King Community in Citrus Heights, California.