Unpack Your Bags
By Father Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose
Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose
Before I became a priest, my work as an executive took me traveling around the world clocking up more than 100,000 miles a year by airplane. Sometimes I would find myself in three different countries within the same week. To help manage the travel, I had a habit whenever I arrived at a hotel: I completely unpacked all my clothes putting them into the drawers or closet and totally emptying my suitcases. It was my way of moving in and making it home! Whether I would be there for 1 day or 10 days I unpacked everything and made that place my home for the short time I would stay. I was totally committed to that location. It was my way of staying sane with a crazy travel schedule. This can be a great metaphor for relationships especially married couples. When a couple gets married and move into a house together, they have to do the same thing. If one person kept some boxes ready to repack in case things did not work out, we would think it a bit strange to say the least and we would wonder if they are really committed to the marriage. There would be little chance that the marriage would last long as one person is really not committed.
I recently heard that a “commitment is not a real commitment unless it has no expiration date.” That’s a wonderful way to explain marriage. That is what makes it so challenging and yet so awesome. A married couple signs up in total commitment to their spouse. Christian marriage is considered to be the best example of Christian discipleship.
Today’s Gospel gives us lots of examples of what this Christian love looks like in action. We are called to treat everyone as family or close friends. In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his Great Sermon telling his disciples, and us, “If they love their enemies and do good to them then their reward will be great.” This is not quid quo pro, it’s Christian discipleship.
We are called to be totally committed to being disciples. We are called to unpack all our belongings and move into this role as Christian disciples. There is no expiration date to our baptism or our baptismal promises which we renew every week. Yes, we are called to love others.We have the most influence in our homes, schools and offices. We are called to stretch out to those in our community whom are disadvantaged or whom we dislike, maybe even hate. We are called to unpack all our belongings and be in for the long-term relationship of being a disciple. We are called to love and not seek revenge. We are called to love and not seek repayment. We are called to love and not harbor ill will. We are called to love and serve others.
Our discipleship is not a temporary stay but a stay without an expiration date. Let’s unpack our bags for the Christian life and be ready for total commitment this week.