Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Burn the Ships" Heaven and Hell are at Stake

Burn the Ships Burn the boats

The phrase “Burn The Ships” comes from a historic conquest, in 1519, when the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan, with only one objective…seize the great treasures known to be there, hoarded by the Aztecs who ruled for over six hundred years. Cortez was committed to his mission and his quest for riches is legendary. He was an excellent motivator, convincing more than 500 soldiers and 100 sailors to set sail from Spain to Mexico, commanding 11 ships, to set out on an Adventure to take the world’s riches treasure. The historic question is “how a small band of Spanish soldiers arrived in a strange country and swiftly brought about the overthrow of a large and powerful empire that was in power for over six centuries?” The odds were against them 300 to one.

For Cortez, the answer was easy. It was all or nothing! He sensed the hesitation in his soldiers, he realized there doubt, and he understood their fears. He also knew that for them to have any chance what was required was a Complete and Total Commitment. How do you get this commitment?
Here’s how Cortez got the “buy in” from the rest of his men. He took away the option of failure. It was conquer and be hero’s and enjoy the spoils of victory…or DIE! When Cortez and his men arrived on the shores of the Yucatan he rallied the men for one final pep talk before leading his men into battle, and utters these three words that changed the course of history. “Burn the Ships”.
He met with resistance from his men. "Burn the ships," he repeated. He then uttered these words "if we are going home, we are going home in their ships". With that, Cortez and his men burned their own ships, and by burning their own ships, the commitment level of the men was raised to a whole new level. A level much higher than any of the men, including Cortez, could have ever imagined.
Amazingly, the men conquered the Aztecs and had succeeded in something where others had been unsuccessful for six centuries. The overcame the odds of 300 to one and brought down a kingdom that had been around for six-hundred years.

Why did they win? They had no escape. No fall back position. They had no choice! It was "succeed or die". Their rescue boats were destroyed, there was no fall-back plan, there was no possibility to turn back. They were “all in.”

In the Gospel of Luke we hear: “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem...” Our Lord knew he was going to His death, he knew what would be required of him. He had overcome the temptations of the devil, He had realized His mission and purpose and so we “resolutely determined” to journey to Jerusalem. There was no going back... he had “nowhere to lay his head.” He had “burned his ships.” Along he asks some to follow him and some willingly go, but he has one condition: There is no turning back, “Let the dead bury the dead.” His one condition was to “burn the ships.” In order to follow Him you must never look back. 

Heaven and Earth are at stake for you. The war is waged and the battle has begun. Jesus makes it clear that “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In your baptism St. Paul reminds us “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

The temptation is to have a “rescue boat”. The weakness that will keep us from inheriting the kingdom of heaven is by having some attachment to sin. The one sure sign of losing the battle is falling back into sin, looking back to pleasure, toying with an addiction.

Many that I have helped overcoming an addiction were only able to do it when they “burnt the ships.” They had to get rid of everything that reminded them of it. Those that have overcome alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography and other addictions have done so by “burning the ships.” They began by getting rid of every bottle in their house, stepping away from their “connections”, throwing out the DVDs and fire-walling their computers. The ships have to be burned so that we don’t ever look back and try to get on them again. Because there will be days when we want to escape. There will be times when we want relief. There will be weakness when we want to give up...

But this is the battle between Heaven and Hell, Life and Death, Victory and defeat.

You have already been baptized. You have already been chosen for the Kingdom of Heaven. You have already died to sin and been immersed into the life of Christ.

In whatever vocation we are called our “ships have to be burned”. If you are married you must “burn the ships.” Let go of the life that you had before marriage. You've made this commitment to love, honor, and cherish this one person above all else for the rest of your life. “Burn the ships” you are tempted to board. If you are a religious you have been called to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience... “Burn the ships” that tempt you to a life of wealth, to indulge in passions and appetites, or radical individualism. If you are ordained, like myself, live the life worthy of your call. “Burn the ships” that go against the promises of celibacy, obedience to the Bishop, and daily prayer. And if you are single - live your vocation “Burn the ships” that deny God and create idols of power, wealth, and domination.

If you are baptized... you are already on the journey. You are already on the threshold. You are already in the battle. There can be no turning back. The “ships must be burnt.”

If you are not baptized, you too can go “all-in”. You can come to know Jesus who is the “Way and the Truth and the Life.” Join the Church, you can become initiated into our faith join the Rite of Christian Initiation RCIA.

Heaven and Hell are at stake. Are you willing to go “all-in”?

What are the “Ships that need to be burn” in your life?

Jesus says very clearly: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

“Burn the Ships!” “Put your hand to the plow and don’t ever look back!” 
put your hand to the plow and don't look back

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