Minute Homily: Detachment

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

This Sunday’s scripture readings are all about detachment. Detachment means not being overly attached to the things of this world, not letting these things have too much control over you, or giving them greater importance than they ought to have. It’s easy to think about detachment in terms of not being attached to our possessions, not being obsessed with personal wealth or letting our possessions possess us. But our readings tell us that detachment is about much more than that.

In the gospel we read about Simon and Andrew leaving their boats behind to follow Jesus, abandoning their careers as fishermen. In St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we’re told that those who have wives should act as not having them, those who weep should act as not weeping, those who rejoice as not rejoicing. This may sound kind of strange but the lesson here is that we need to be detached not just from material goods, but also things like our careers, our relationships, and even our own emotions.

This is not because any of these things are bad. These are all good things. And it’s not that we are not meant to value them. Detachment is about having proper perspective and giving these things their proper place in our lives. Because as good as they are, none of them are the greatest good – only God is. And as good as they are, none of these things is eternal – only God is. And even more fundamentally, we were not made for any of these things – we were made for God. That means only our relationship with God can make us truly happy, not any of these other things, which are good and valuable ultimately only to the extent that they help us know, love and serve God.

This is why some in the Church practice detachment in a radical way by taking vows of celibacy or vows of poverty. But all of us are called to practice detachment in our lives by putting God first, and being ready to let go of even the good things of this world when God calls us to do so, trusting that he’s calling us to something greater.