Hand to the Plow

In the gospel today, Jesus uses hyperbole to set forth a hard truth. To his apostles he steers them away from petty preoccupation with vengeance. He tells one man that to follow him immediately and not even go home to say goodbye. To another, that being a disciple means having no time to even attend his father’s funeral. “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” In ever so many words, Jesus, in word and example, steers clear of attachments and calls his followers to likewise be wary of such. To be fully alive, one must have a sense of perspective, that life is greater than this or that attachment.

Obviously, Jesus is not talking about the ordinary demands of loving relationships. We all have strong bonds to those we love and are called to serve them. Rather, Jesus uses striking imagery to drive home the point that some personal preoccupations , or the passionate desire for that “one thing that will make me happy,” or addictions, or ambitions or fears can lead us into an empty meaningless life.

So. What am I attached to? And do these attachments get in the way of my life? Or have they become my life? I pass along to you some thoughts to consider on this critical aspect of our discipleship of the Lord.

  • What are my attachments?
  • Where did that attachment come from?
  • No person or thing outside yourself has the power to make you happy or unhappy.

If you refuse to look at your attachments, it means that you have not yet suffered enough at their hands. That last thought bears some reflection. Because no matter how much good or satisfaction an attachment brings into our life, it will eventually bring us to our downfall. It will ruin our life. Ignition spirituality offers a prayer that may guide out reflection.

Prayer of Detachment

I beg of you, my Lord,

to remove anything which separates

me from you, and you from me.

Remove anything that makes me unworthy

of your sight, your control, your reprehension;

of your speech and conversation,

of your benevolence and love.

Cast from me every evil

that stands in the way of my seeing you,

hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you;

fearing and being mindful of you;

knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;

being conscious of your presence

and, as far as may be, enjoying you.

This is what I ask for myself

and earnestly desire from you. Amen.

—Saint Peter Faber, SJ