The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel account can be quite unsettling. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Anyone of you who does not renounce all one’s possessions cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus did not hide the reality from his disciples as to what being a disciple would entail. He pointed out the difficulties, the hardships, and the sacrifices that would be asked of those who followed him. No sugar coating anything! Being a disciple would not be an easy endeavor.
It’s possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple. Put on the jersey with the big “C” on the front and watch life from the sidelines. Talk the talk, but not walk the walk!
There are many people who follow Christ at a safe distance, but few very real disciples, that is, people who actually do what he said. Discipleship involves rolling up one’s sleeves and getting involved in the messiness of life.
Let’s face reality. It is not easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Discipleship has some practical demands that one cannot escape under pain of betraying the Gospel. Yet we have many comfortable church-goers who give little notice to the misery of the needy and the plight of the poor. Still today the Christian is called to renounce many things that are taken for granted.
Some followers melt away as soon as a demand is made on them. Others are destroyed by opposition and criticism.
Jesus said in following him there is a place for common sense, for prudence, and for counting the cost. We need to be challenged to bring out the very best in us. Christ gave his all and a disciple cannot expect any less to be asked of her or him.
We find encouragement from the examples of the apostles. The Gospels show us that they struggled along the way as they tried to understand Jesus and the demands of discipleship. Jesus did not write them off, but patiently challenged them to be better.
Looking at the apostles we discover our own inadequacies. The Gospel offers us hope. Repentance and a second chance are always available. Jesus is generous with his grace to those who strive to answer his call. Our response to follow Christ is something that needs to be renewed each and every day.
– Fr. Dennis, September 8, 2019