A guard in charge of a lighthouse along a dangerous coast was given enough oil for one month and told to keep the light burning every night. One day a woman asked for oil so that her children could stay warm. Then a farmer came. His son needed oil for a lamp so he could read. Another needed some for an engine. The guard saw each as a worthy request and gave some oil to satisfy all. By the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse was dry. That night the beacon was dark and three ships crashed on the rocks. More than one hundred lives were lost. The lighthouse attendant explained what he had done and why. But the prosecutor replied, “You were given only one task: to keep the light burning. Every other thing was secondary. You have no excuse.”
Temptation is often a choice between good and evil, and it’s pretty obvious what we must do (actually doing it is another story!). But more difficult is the inner conflict when one must choose between two good options … this was the situation the keeper faced. This is also the situation faced by Elisha in the First Reading, by those who had to choose between the Law and the Spirit in the Second Reading, and by the folks in the Gospel.
These stories show that to follow Christ is to follow him unconditionally … without the 101 excuses that we so often make. Yes, it may be good to do this, that or the other. But it is the best thing?
Can you complete the sentence: “I will follow Christ on the condition that …” If you can complete the sentence then you are in the same situation as any of these well-meaning but mistaken folks. Jesus will not accept a second place in our lives. He will be first or nothing. Yes, it’s scary … but it also helps to remember that in following Jesus we lose very little, but gain everything!!! Remember that little dialogue between Jesus and Peter. The latter said, “We have left everything to follow you.” And Jesus replied: “Yes you have, but you will receive a hundred times more in this life and the life to come.“
Be God’s smile for someone today!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.