What Baggage Do You Carry?

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Respectfully Submitted by Brenda Worley

The readings for this Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, led us through our journey of sin.  The First Reading was from Genesis and reminded us of our sin through Adam’s and Eve’s eating from the tree of life.  The Second Reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans reminded us that though this original sin led us to condemnation, Jesus’ death and resurrection have led us to eternal life for all who follow Christ. 

The Holy Gospel recounted the temptations of Christ after his fasting in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights.   Jesus, the Son of God, was tempted by Satan three times.  First, he tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger.  In reponse Our Lord reminded Satan that we do not live by bread alone.  Second, Satan told Jesus to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple and challenge God to save him.  Jesus rebutted with “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.  Finally, Satan appealed to the human desire for power and offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if he would deny God and worship him instead.  Jesus rebuked Satan reminding him that we are to “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”  At this point Satan gave up and the angels attended to the needs of Christ.

During the homily, Mother Mary shared some of her story.  Growing up in a small town where everybody knew everybody, she was anxious to get away and head to college.  She packed the basics to carry with her but left behind her middle name desiring to be known simply as Mary.  She also left church behind and planned on being a self-made woman.  She returned to the church by Advent of her freshman year, realizing the importance of community with God and family. 

What has this got to do with baggage?  It is obvious that Jesus had packed the right tools in his baggage for his wanderings.  He remembered the words of God and remained strong in the face of temptations. 

We face temptations every day…the temptation to binge watch rather than meditate and pray, the temptation to gesture to the person who cut you off in traffic, the temptation to hold onto old grudges with family or friends.  If we do not have our baggage packed with the tools needed to help and strengthen us, we will be weak and fall into the trap of temptation. 

What do we need in our bags?  As Christians, we must carry with us a keen awareness of our baptism, remembering the fact that we are sealed as God’s own.  Our actions should reflect this belonging.  It is also important to pack a solid memory of the whole story as laid out in the scriptures.  The Bible contains the answers to our questions and grounds us in our faith.  Near the top of our bag, easily accessible, we need an openness to the Holy Spirit.  Constant conversation with this guidance will remind us how Christ’s followers behave.  Finally, we need to pack something to remind us of someone in our lives who has shown us love, compassion, and forgiveness.  This will be a tangible reminder of God’s love for us all.

The word “baggage” has gotten a bad connotation in recent time.  The following quote reminds me that our baggage should not be stuffed with negative thoughts and emotions.  What are you packing for the journey?

“What we think is colored by the baggage we carry, and what we think is what we live.”
― Laurie Buchanan, PhD

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