In his European tour, 1843-1844, Francis Parkman visited the Sicilian Monastery at San Martino. Located in wild and picturesque mountains, its inhabitants came from the Sicilian nobility. Which meant a surfeit of luxuries that made monastery life like a visit to their homes. Fountains poured out water; buildings built in such grandeur they shamed many village churches; libraries stocked with such volumes they invited browsing and in-depth studies; meals that rivaled the banquets of royalty.
Parkman wittily noted that a monk looking for “ascetic privations” and “mortification of the flesh” should look elsewhere. Parkman Journals, Vol. 1, 162. The exact opposite of what Benedict envisioned. But royals must be comfortable.
Jesus warns us that we can’t take anything we presently ARE into discipleship. We forsake our possessions, relationships, habits, goals, ambitions, etc. Discipleship in his kingdom demands the surrender and abandonment of all we consider necessary to keep from feeling naked. We bring nothing to conversion but our repentance. We transport into discipleship nothing but a desire to be Christ-like.
If he wills, and he may, he determines what to return to us of the ALL we surrender to him. If he doesn’t will, and he likely won’t, accept his refusals as the Wisdom of the Ages. What it means is, IF he had returned it, we no longer need or want it. For in being devoted to Jesus much of what we considered essential before meeting him we find of no value afterwards. See Philippians 3:4-11 as verification.
Whatever happens in our life of faith, Jesus alone makes the decisions for us. We simply agree that his every decision is right.
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