The Cost of Discipleship

Luke 14: 25-33
Phil 2:12-18 / Ps 27:1,4,13-14

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
(Luke 14:33)

One obsessed with his possessions
Forms no intimate relations;
But all attachments here on earth
Compared to God’s love have no worth.

Now great crowds accompanied Jesus, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)

Reflection

A brother in community once told me, “Compared to God’s love for us, our human love must look more like hate.” This was his reaction when he read today’s Gospel. However, Jesus did not mean that we have to hate our loved ones in order to become His disciples. It must have been just a figure of speech that He used at the time to emphasize the importance of setting aside all attachments if they were to be His effective followers.

The message of Jesus, however, is consistent throughout all His teachings. There is only one ‘pearl of great prize’ that should be the ultimate and only object of our obsession, and that is to have an intimate relationship with God. Everything else fades into insignificance. “What profit is there, after all, for a man who gains the whole world,” but loses the inheritance of God’s kingdom?” (Mark 8:36) His life would be like that of a builder who starts out on something, but never completes the structure, or like a king who goes to battle without any hope of victory. What an utter futility it all would be. But since we have found the Way, and believe that this is the Truth, then as St. Paul exhorts in the first reading, “. . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil.2:12b-13).

Dear God, now that I have pledged to follow Jesus, I lift up to you all my loved ones in this life, knowing that they will all be taken care of while I am in the Lord’s service. Bless them, Lord and keep them safe from the evil one, I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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