Living the Gospel – June 26, 2022

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“Let The Dead Bury Their Dead”
“No One Who Sets A Hand To The Plough And Looks Back Is Fit For The Kingdom Of God.”

Tough words to hear, but Jesus knows the pull of the world in our everyday lives and he also knows what brings lasting happiness and fulfillment——the purpose and mission he has called us to.

When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, she went in haste because she knew that she had been called by God for a special purpose; she knew her mission. Mother Teresa left her home in Albania in 1928 at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto . In answering the call of Jesus, she never saw her family again, in this lifetime; St Francis of Assisi left everything including his clothing which he placed at the feet of his father as he left for the mission God had called him for. These and many more followed their calling and impacted the entire world.

Not everyone is called to the Priesthood, religious life, or Christian ministry, but we are all called, by our baptism, to be Disciples of Christ and to be witnesses of his life and love to others. When we have the courage to tell our stories, sharing what Jesus has done in our lives, we can touch the soul of another person and change his heart, even if that person is a criminal. In the spring of 2005, I was reading the book, The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren, which basically tells us that every one of us has been created by God for a purpose. I was halfway through the book when we turned on the news one evening in March, to hear that Brian Nichols had been arrested at the apartment of Ashley Smith in Duluth, Georgia. Just the day before his arrest, Brian had murdered four people, two of whom were in the courthouse where he was to stand trial for an alleged rape. He had escaped by overpowering a female officer, taking her gun, and pistol-whipping her into a coma. At 2:30 am the next morning he took Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment as she returned home from the convenience store. Though the story is quite lengthy, Ashley told Brian her story over the next 7 hours. She told him her husband had been stabbed to death a few years earlier, that she was a drug addict who was trying to reform her life with the help of Jesus, and that she had a 5-year-old daughter. She asked if she could read to him from a book that was helping her and he agreed. As Brian listened, Ashley read to him from “The Purpose Driven Life.” At one point, Brian asked Ashley what she thought he should do and she told him that he should give himself up. He even expressed remorse for what he had done. By 9 am that morning Ashley insisted that she had to go see her daughter and Brian let her go. Ashley called 911 and Brian was taken into custody without incident.

Though we may never have to witness to our faith under such trying circumstances; following Jesus and telling another of his love may be just the hope that person needs.

Sylvia Bates