(Opening) “The word of God becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”
(Homily) “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” I want to stay with this urge from Jesus. Whoever wishes to come after Jesus must deny himself first. What does it mean to deny oneself? We hear all the time—promote yourself, develop your career, strengthen your relationship and etc. that is all about gaining oneself. Denying oneself seems countercultural.
There is a saying in Buddhism: if a Buddhist monk is comfortable in living in the temple, it is time for him to leave. I think denying oneself is similar to leaving oneself. To me there were several significant leaves in my life. In 1993, I had to leave home to enroll the obligatory military service for over two years. It was hard for me to leave the loved ones behind, pushing myself to the unknown. I was afraid. In 1998, I left home again, thinking that I would not be able to come home any more because my parents were not supportive of my idea of being a priest, especially the celibate life. I left home like the young Francis. In 2003, I left Korea by saying yes to the rector who asked me to go to Cleveland to finish the graduate study in the seminary. The Korean seminary was a safe and wonderful place for me to stay on. However, the truth is if a Buddhist monk is comfortable in living in the temple, it is time for him to leave. Looking back, the leaves I chose were not easy but worth and that was a preparation for a greater leave—denying oneself.