The Cost of Discipleship
Quite a picture in today’s Gospel: Jesus is travelling with “great” crowds; He stops and tells them that, to follow Him you must “hate” your family and even your own life! Strong words! Discipleship is a great calling, but…hatred of family? carrying your own cross? Challenging words to those who wanted to join His team and help spread His “Good News” –both then, and now.
Jesus continues his discourse and invites his followers to consider the “cost” of discipleship. He compares the decision to follow Him to building a tower (most likely for winemaking) or going to battle. In both examples Jesus highlights that a person would be foolish to embark upon a major project without research, planning, sufficient resources, etc.
Today’s Gospel encourages us to consider our own discipleship, rooted in our Baptism. No doubt we’ve been blessed thus far in many ways – and we’ve faced challenging times in living our faith in this 21st Century world of pandemics, violence, injustice, etc. Jesus directly challenges us to look deep in our hearts and check on our resources and personal resolve: Is Jesus 1st and foremost in our lives? Do people or things of any size or shape get in the way? Are we open to the energy involved in growth and change to follow Jesus?
“Hard”? Yes!! “Impossible”? No!! As noted in the reading from the Book of Wisdom, God provides the grace, the Spirit, to help us. And like Paul in his letter to Philemon, we have the support of one another in daily living as credible disciples of Jesus — be we imprisoned or sick or elderly or experiencing any limitations.
We are today invited to be grateful for the gift of our faith, nurtured in each of us by our family, friends and spiritual leaders… Likewise, to be grateful for our 21st Century call to discipleship within the vocation we’ve received from God. We’re encouraged to continue growing as disciples, accepting the opportunities and challenges that are part of life – helping each of us be not just “one of the crowd,” but truly unique, faith-filled and loving disciples. God’s blessings upon us all as we credibly share our faith and our gifts with our needy sisters and brothers world-wide.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. serves as the Province Vocation Director and also as Local Superior of the Passionist Community of Holy Name in Houston, Texas.