BRIDGEPORT— Discipleship and following in the footsteps of the Lord require a deep sense of gratitude for our blessings and also a willingness to give them all away, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his homily for Mass on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Practicing spiritual detachment is one of the most difficult things in life, but it frees us to truly love others, he said in his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel.
After reading the Gospel of Matthew, (10: 37-42), 39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” the bishop offered a personal and poetic reflection on spiritual detachment.
He said one of the most profound experiences he had while serving as Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn was participating a spiritual exercise known as the “Five Suitcases,” in which a person is challenged to place all of his or her blessings in five suitcases and then unpack them one by one in an effort to detach themselves from the things of the world.
The bishop noted that in the gospel, Jesus challenges his listeners to be prepared to let go of all they love, “even the most basic, natural relationships with mothers and fathers.”
“There is much we all cling to, but Jesus becomes even more blunt that we must be prepared to give up everything even our own desire for self-preservation so that we can walk with Him.”
“Discipleship is about becoming detached from that which is around us so that we become more attached to the Lord,” he said.
Two qualities are necessary to fully follow in the footsteps of the Lord, “a deep sense of gratitude in the recognition of our many blessings and the willingness to give them away,” he said.
“Gratitude is fundamental to our lives. That is what we do here on the altar in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass—we give thanks” he said.
“On Calvary, Christ extended his hands to embrace us and let go of everything else except love of the Father, and he is our savior and redeemer,” he said, adding that the deeper reason for detachment is to learn that “Love is self-giving,” opening our clenched hands to give ourselves to others.
“He has taught us what it is to love and not cling to anything, and in his graciousness, he gives it all back to us but in its proper places so that it doesn’t command all of our attention, and we are ready to give it away if love demands it.”
As we are emptied of ourselves in following Christ, we are also “Filled with gift of Holy Spirit, so that we can love world, our neighbor, our enemy and all we meet in the mind and heart of Christ,” he said.
The bishop concluded by suggesting that those who watched the Mass begin their own spiritual exercise of sitting and listing all of the many blessings in their lives, and “thanking God for every line on your list. ”
“Thank God for all the ways he has helped us, picked us up, forgiven us, shaken the dust off us, embraced us, and walked with us to the next day, the next chapter in the newness of life.”
In brief comments after the final blessing, the bishop said there was much good news this weekend as all parishes throughout the diocese have resumed Mass inside Church, and he invited people to return as soon as possible to receive the Eucharist in person. He also asked prayers for all who are ill and that the virus will “leave our midst so that we may return to the worship we desire and the community we form together.”