Phmn 9-10, 12-17
Spend some time watching TV and you will be offered a plethora of suggestions to choose from to make your life better, more attractive, more entertained, more of whatever media implies you need to be happy and complete. The gospel reading for Sunday offers an idea that is diametrically opposite from surface happiness to the hard choice of discipleship.
Jesus tells the crowds around him, and us, what we are to do if we choose to follow him and be committed disciples.
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “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. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus is not telling us to literally hate our loved ones, but rather, to make our choice for discipleship primary and everyone and everything else secondary. Jesus was a fully alive, loving person who also experienced difficulties and loss. To fully understand the meaning of this we must learn to live with our own cross – loss of health, wealth, position, death of loved ones, and whatever else we lose that is meaningful to us, whatever else we must do to be faithful followers of Christ who is faithful to us at all times.
Accepting our crosses because we know God is with us through it all is merely a door to our end goal of making the Reign of God present around us. We have to be prepared to face these crosses with prayer and reflection, and even gratitude.
Jesus tells two brief parables that tell us to be prepared. If we build something we must have the resources to complete it. If we are an army we must have the forces necessary to ensure victory.
Preparedness is just as crucial in our call to discipleship. We must be willing and able to respond to that call by recognizing what is primary in our lives. To let go of what is extraneous in order to truly follow the Christ is the first step. Continuously deepening our prayer life to be closer to the Christ is essential as well. Following the important commandment of loving God, self and others is key to discipleship. Loving Christ and following as a disciple must lead to service for and to others.
Real love of God and responding to the call of discipleship in not easy. Are you up to being a committed disciple?
How would you describe what discipleship means to you personally?
How can you deepen your response to the call to be a committed disciple of Christ?