Ministerial message: You must commit to one chair

Luciano Pavarotti’s father introduced him to music. He urged the famous tenor to work very hard to develop his voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional musician, took him as a pupil. But he also enrolled in a teachers’ college.

On graduating, he asked his father, “Should I be a teacher or a singer?'

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"Luciano,” his father replied, “if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.”

He chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before he made his first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera.

He concluded: “And now I think whether it's laying bricks, writing a book; whatever we choose; we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that's the key. Choose one chair."

The Christian faith challenges us to commitment because God gives us the necessary grace. In the text above (Luke 9:57-62), Jesus challenges us to commitment on our faith journey.

The question he asks is simple: “Will you follow me or not?”

To answer this question, we shall reflect on: the nature of our commitment; the reason for commitment and the energy for to stay committed?

It is ironic. But the nature of commitment is freedom. Someone once said that commitment is freedom from freedom itself. Our vision in life is often skewed in favour of our ego. Freed from the desires of the flesh, we are set free for living a more fulfilled life. We reject our initial visions and commit to Jesus and his vision. In so doing, we begin to see our relationship with God and even our family in a new way (Mark 10:28).

Our unshakable belief in God is the reason for our commitment. The Psalmist refers to the Lord as his inheritance (Psalm 142:5). The land, which was handed over to the people of Israel from one generation to another was a symbol of identity, membership, sustenance and prosperity. Without the land, they had no future and will not last long in the present. Here the Psalmist is claiming that God has replaced the land and has become for him the source of blessing and prosperity. It is this kind of confidence in God that can lead one to commit more fully to him.

We get the energy to become and stay committed because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Fr. Greg Friedman shared his reluctance in joining the Franciscan Order. He told his spiritual director that he cannot give his entire self to God. The spiritual director told him that he was right, he could not. Only Jesus can. He can free us for the commitment required for discipleship. Hence, commitment depends on persistent prayer (Luke 18:1).

Commitment is the single most important thing on our Christian journey. Yet, it is reflected in the little choices that we make. It, however, depends on the grace and mercy of God.

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