“Dear friends in Jesus, there is a story of a bishop who did not ever miss an opportunity to teach and preach. One day he was in a barber shop receiving a hair cut from a young man who was his regular barber. In the course of his haircut the bishop casually asked, ‘Harry, how are you and God getting along?’
‘Well I’m doing the best I can and I think it’s good enough and I am sure God is happy with what I do for him.’ Replied the young man. The bishop just smiled in response. After he was done with his haircut the bishop paid the young man and said to him with a smile on his face, ‘Harry, you work so hard that you deserve a break. Sit down now, rest and have a coke and I will cut the next customer’s hair for you.’ The young man said, ‘I appreciate your willingness, but I’m afraid I cannot let you do that.’
‘But why not? I promise to do my best.’ said the bishop.
‘Oh bishop,’ said the young man, ‘I am afraid your best would not be good enough.’ The bishop shot back with a smile on his face, ‘Dear son, neither is your best good enough for God.’
Dear friends in Jesus, we all do our best for God and His Church. There is no doubt about it and I’m sure God is very happy with what we do for Him and appreciates us for the same. He not only appreciates us for what we do for Him, but also promises us to reward us for the same. Listen to what he says in Matthew chapter 10:42, ‘You will not lose your reward even if all you have to offer is a glass of cold water to those in need.’ Today, while recognizing everything we do for Him and appreciating us for the same, God is exalting all of us to see if there is anything more we can do for Him. In effect, this is what he’s asking the young man in today’s Gospel. ‘Can you do a little more than what you are doing for me?’ This young man has been doing his best for God by keeping all of his commandments and he proudly says he has been doing this ever since he has been a child. Jesus loves him for this obedience, but all the same he exalts him to consider doing more than what he has been doing for him by selling all his possessions. What do you think is the reason why Jesus asks him to do more especially if he has been keeping all the commands of the law since his childhood? What more can a person offer or do than keep all the commands of the law? As good and as obedient as this young man is there is a problem with his faith and the problem is his faith in God has not grown over these years. His relationship has not deepened for all these years. He has been doing the very same thing all his life. In a way he has grown too comfortable in his faith that faith for him has become just a routine. Noticing how comfortable this young man is with his faith and forcing the dangers of this comfortability Jesus tells him to do more so that he can grow in his faith.
Dear friends in Jesus, comfortability is very detrimental. It hampers our growth. Think of a sportsman, think of a student who is making good grades or think of people who are handling their finances very well. What do you think happens to them if they become comfortable in their fields of interest? Over time they fail and this is what happens to us if we feel comfortable in our faith. We run the risk of weakening it as well as losing it over time. A few years ago the University of California did a fascinating study of amoebas, the tiny single cell living organisms. They made life as easy as possible for these amoebas and recorded the results. As part of their experiment they removed everything that would stress out these amoebas from their environment. They made sure these amoebas did not lack anything and that their life was as comfortable as possible. Do you know what happened to these amoebas because of that? All of them without any exception whatever died over time and this is what happens to us if we become too comfortable in our faith. Our faith flickers and dies over time. Yes dear friends, there is a reason why our faith in God is compared to the running of a race. This is because there is no room for comfortability while running. The moment we feel comfortable we fail and we lose. Matthew chapter 17 has an interesting incident. A father comes to the disciples of Jesus and asks them to drive out a demon from his son and no matter how hard the disciples try they fail to drive this demon out and when they are free they ask Jesus as to why they could not drive this demon out from this young boy and Jesus answers them saying, ‘It was because of your little faith.’ What is interesting from this incident is that the disciples were given authority and power to drive out demons and they did drive out demons in the past, but what happened was over time they grew so comfortable with the power given to them that they lost it to the point they could not drive out a demon.
Dear friends in Jesus, this is what happens to us if we grow comfortable in our faith. God’s power in us weakens and vanishes. Back in the 80’s there was a famous book by name, All I Really Need To Know I Knew in my Kindergarten. This is the kind of mentality we devil up if we grow comfortable with God in our faith. We feel we know everything about God and because we feel we know everything about Him we make no extra effort to deepen our faith in Him and what happens if our relationship with Him weakens? It suffers death from lack of life.
Dear friends in Jesus, today the Good Lord is asking all of us to shed our comfortability in faith and deepen our relationship with God. One good way to grow in the Lord is by doing more than what we are right now doing for Him and an important exaltation the Lord makes today is this: make sure what you have today does not become a hindrance to your life with me tomorrow. The young man in the Gospel had wealth and it became a hindrance to his life in Jesus. I do not know what you have today. You may have wealth, you may have knowledge, you may have power, you may have beauty, you may have pride, you may have lust, you may have anger, you may have sins or you may have technology. No matter what you have, the Lord wants you to use it wisely so that it does not come between you and God’s Kingdom. Dear friends in Jesus, today ask yourself two questions:
- What are some of the areas of my faith where I have grown too comfortable with?
- If I were to die today would I make it to Heaven or is there something that I have today that is a hindrance to my making it to Heaven?
Recognize your comfort zones and your stumbling blocks and work on them. I conclude with an advice from St. Paul, ‘So if you think you are standing firm be careful so that you do not fall.’”