Are We Willing to Pay the Price They Paid?
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10: 24b-25).
Here we are seeing another one of Jesus’ “Hard Sayings.” So hard that it threw his disciples for a loop. The passage goes on to say, “They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mark 10:26-27).
Jesus even “doubles down” on his hard saying as he goes on to say, “there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come” (Mark 10:29-30).
This was the Gospel reading for this day in which our country honors the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. This kind of “ALL IN” sacrifice is itself “astonishing.” We marvel at that kind of bravery and self-sacrifice. Moreover, it is inspirational. This level of sacrifice ignites a fire in the belly of those who look on.
Even though my father, Wally Heilman, never served in the military, my thoughts go to him today. Dad was just a boy when the “Greatest Generation” was aiding their neighbors during the Great Depression and volunteering to put themselves in harm’s way in World War II. Dad was “exposed” to those who gave “total” dedication to these worthy causes. This changed dad. He gained the wisdom to know “this” is what it means to “truly live.”
While it was not a depression or a world war that dad faced in his time, he knew whatever God had given him for his mission(s), he would give nothing less than “his all.” Dad loved everything God put in his path, because he loved God and he loved “a life lived not for himself, but for Christ who lived n him.” And so, dad poured himself into every mission set before him.
With seven kids, dad started his own business. He worked morning, noon and night, but we never had a sense dad was not around. He coached almost every sports team in grade school. He worked at every parish event. He let his pastor, Fr. Schuster, know he could always rely on him, as he helped him start St. Maria Goretti parish in Madison. He enthusiastically poured himself “completely” into everything he did, and he loved doing it … he loved knowing he was making a difference, and he couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to offer himself.
But, more than anything else, dad inspired many others to give this kind of total dedication. You see? This is what evangelization look like. This is what the beginnings of the Church looked like. People inspiring other people to dedicate themselves “completely” to the mission of building the kingdom of God. No “program” or “DVD series” or “workshop” will do more than the inspiration of total self-sacrifice … the inspiration of those willing to “pay the price” to serve God.
“We must be willing to recover the zeal and the spirit of the first century Christians … unless we are willing to do what they did and pay the price they paid, the future of our country, the days of America, are numbered.” -Fr. John Hardon, S.J.