Cost of discipleship is nothing less than everything

By: By Sharon Priester

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 5

Wisdom 9:13-18b; Psalm 90:3-4,5-6,12-13,14-17; Philemon 9-10,12-17; Luke 14:25-33

Over the years, many of us have chosen to become members of a certain group or a fan/supporter of a certain person. Why did we do that? Probably we had listened and decided it was something we needed to be part of. The commitment wasn’t too much and it fit our lifestyle at the time.

The people at the time of Jesus were no different. Some, like us, listened and decided to follow Jesus. Maybe they saw or heard how he had cured the crippled woman. Others enjoyed listening to his parables and learning from Him. There may have been some, however, who stopped being his “groupies” (as we call them today) when he told them that in order to be saved they needed to “strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many . . . will attempt to enter but not be strong enough.” (Luke 9:24)

Those who had endured and continued to follow heard what Jesus said in this week’s Gospel: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” I can just hear someone saying, “You want me to hate all my family to be your disciple? That’s impossible. I can’t do that.”

The word “hate” is pretty strong. Jesus is making them think about their priorities: “If you want to follow me, you must love God with your whole mind, heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 11:27)

Are you ready to reach out to other members of the family of God? What is more important — staying with your family and ignoring your neighbors and those around you, or loving God and others?

To make it even worse, Jesus goes on to say, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:28) If it wasn’t difficult enough to leave your family, now you also have to carry your cross, to suffer along the way.

These are really hard expectations. Whatever lies ahead in your life is going to be a lot different from what you are used to. You are going to be taken out of your comfort zone. As a follower of Jesus, you are being called to turn your back on those things keeping you away from God — your family, your friends — not to forget them or ignore them, but to help them and lead them to God. Like an arrow, your own line of sight needs to point or focus on Jesus and the promise of eternal life.

Jesus then speaks to the crowd using two parables. He talks about a person constructing a tower and a king marching into battle. Each of them, committed to completing the assigned task, knew that they must put themselves totally into the process. If we wish to be a disciple, we must put discipleship in front of whatever else is in our lives because Jesus tells us, “Anyone of you who does not renounce all possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Luke14:33)

In our first reading, the author, like all of us, whose deliberations are timid, unsure, corruptible, and burdened with many concerns, finds difficulty with the things right in front of him. He pleads with God to send the Holy Spirit from on high. He is confident that once the Spirit is sent, new paths will be made straight.

God has given each of us a unique calling, unique gifts — our own particular way of advancing God’s kingdom. Like Paul in our second reading, who is imprisoned in Rome, we can commit ourselves to be disciples of God, renouncing all possessions, and become His witness to our families and neighbors, in our workplaces and parishes, throughout the world. We can ask for the wisdom to meet the challenges in front of us and trust that God will show us the way as we pray.

SHARON PRIESTER is one of six regional directors of religious education working with the diocesan Office of Catechetics. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
© Copyright 2024 - The Catholic Post || All Rights Reserved || Design by