26th Week of Ordinary Time: Detachment and Following Christ

In Conversation With God Weekly Reflection
26th Week of Ordinary Time: Detachment and Following Christ

By Fr. Francis Carvajal


5/24.1 Following Christ requires detachment. The material goods of this world as means to that end. Learning to live Christian poverty.

Today’s Gospel tells of a time Jesus decided to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.[5595] A scribe approached him and declared: I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus then explained in a few words what following him would entail – the renunciation of comfort, detachment from things, complete abandonment to the divine Will: Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.

Jesus asks of disciples, of all of us, a radical and habitual detachment: the firm resolve to be the master of the things we use. We can never become attached to possessions. Those who have been called to live their vocations in the world need to give this struggle serious attention and keep it up. This struggle is all the more important nowadays when the desire for having, for owning and enjoying things has become the ultimate aim of many lives.[5596]

To live the poverty which Christ asks of his disciples requires a great interior sense of detachment, in the mind and in the will, in the imagination. It is necessary to live the same spirit as the Lord did.[5597] One of the first manifestations of evangelical poverty is the use of goods as means instead of as ends in themselves.[5598] Let us ask the Lord that we may never become carried away by a disordered desire for more and more wealth. Material means are goods insofar as they are ordered to a higher end: to support a family, to educate one’s children, to acquire a better education for the elevation of society, to help works of apostolate and assist those people who are in need ... This is not so easy to implement in those critical situations where the heart of man becomes mistakenly attached. We have to learn how to avoid in real life attachments to people or places or things that can impede our progress to the Lord. This training is necessary whether we own great wealth or hardly any at all. We should not confuse the attitude of poverty with the condition of poverty: It is this sort of poverty, made up of detachment, trust in God, sobriety and a readiness to share, that Jesus declared blessed.[5599] This is the poverty required of those who intend to sanctify themselves in the middle of the world.

St Paul relates how much he depended on this education in detachment when he wrote to the Philippians: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.[5600] He placed all his trust in God.

[5595] Luke 9:57-62

[5596] cf Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, 63

[5597] cf St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, III, 15


[5598] A. Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, Baltimore 1930

[5599] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, 22 March 1986, 66

[5600] Phil 4:12-13