Romans 13: 8-10
Luke 14: 25-33
Are you willing to pay the price of discipleship? Please, don’t answer that question quickly. Jesus does not want a sentimental, rash response. In preparing a couple for the sacrament of matrimony, the priest wants to make sure the couple are not entering this sacred union unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, soberly and in the fear of God (fear of offending someone whom one loves). Martin Luther said, "A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing and suffers nothing, is worth nothing." Are we willing to pay the price?
To stress the significance of this question, Jesus uses twin parables: a man who set out to build a watchtower and the king, with few soldiers, preparing to battle an enemy king with a larger and stronger army. Jesus tells the crowd to consider whether they can afford to follow him. A commitment abandoned is not a positive testimony. Therefore, Jesus says, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything cannot be my disciples." The person who wants to follow Christ must accept the price: surrender. The person cannot afford to hold tightly to people, position or possessions. The true disciple, considering seriously the plan laid out by Jesus, realizes that there is no greater person to love; no greater position to pursue; no greater possession to acquire than Jesus Christ.
The disciple also realizes that complete surrender is impossible. The hold of people, position and possessions are so strong. Our inner resources are not strong enough to resist the magnetic pull of people, position and possessions. We don’t have enough money to build the tower; we don’t have enough troops to win the war. It is only the resources (grace) that God gives us which enable us to surrender, which enable us to be what God calls us to be.
When we discern and comprehend the person Jesus is calling us to be and the price we will have to pay to become that person, then we are ready to answer the question, "Are you willing to pay the price?" Responding to the call of Jesus is not easy, but we know that behind the call is the one who enables us to be faithful disciples.
Let me end with an incident that happened to the author of the "Cotton Patch" New Testament. He was given a red-carpet tour of a new church. The pastor of the new church pointed out a large cross atop a tall steeple. "That cross alone cost us ten thousand dollars," the pastor said with pride. The author replied, "You got cheated. Times were when Christians could get them for free!"
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.