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Trapped by our vices?

There is a story in the book of Elizabeth Brenner, entitled Winning by Letting Go. Brenner explains how people in India catch monkeys – and catch them alive.

They cut a small hole in a box. Then they put a tasty nut in the box. The hole is just large enough for the monkey to put its hand through. But it’s too small for the monkey to withdraw its hand once it has clutched the nut inside.

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So the monkey has two choices. It can let go of the nut and go free, or it can hold on to the nut and stay trapped.

Monkeys usually hold on to the nut.

The monkey is a good image of us (not physically, of course, but spiritually), and the nut represents things, vices and people, which we cannot let go of our hold. Consequently, we are not free. We’re trapped.

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The gospel message of this 13th Sunday is about the failure of the three men who offered to become disciples but could not let go of their attachments.

The first man could not follow the Lord due to the ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION involved. Jesus said that discipleship or following him entailed sacrifice, a willingness to deny one’s personal comfort: “The foxes have holes…but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (cf. Lk 9,57 ff).

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Material deprivation can also mean denying of some comforts and sharing material resources with the less fortunate.

It could also mean sacrificing of precious time to visit the sick or reaching out to the grieving and forelorned.

The second and third men turned their backs on Jesus’ call because of FAMILY OBLIGATIONS. One excused himself, saying, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first bury the dead.” The other said, “Let me say goodbye to my family.”

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Jesus rebukes the second, saying: “Let the dead bury their dead.” Jesus is calling attention to the tragedy of life’s lost opportunities or the Lord’s call to discipleship.

There’s one corporation manager who worked conservatively 19-20 hours a day. His whole life was his business.

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There was nothing sacred in life, except the business. Meetings might be called on Saturdays or Sundays. One day the slave-driving boss was found slumped in his office table – a victim of heart attack!

Poor guy, he ended a servant, not of people, but of money.

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ASK YOURSELF: What are the things that hinder you from discipleship or following the Lord? Is it attachment to work or vices like gambling, drinking, wealth, a bad temper or an illicit relationship?

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LAFF ONE ANOTHER. Man bragged to friend about his “conversion”: “I got rid of my drinking through will power; gambling, through will power; smoking, through will power.” Friend: “How about womanizing?” “Power failure,” man said sheepishly.

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A drunken man can’t drive so he walks home at 2 a.m. A cop accosts him, saying, “Where are you going?” Man: “To a lecture.”

Cop: “Who gives lectures at this hour?” Man: “My wife!” (Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)