Cost Of Discipleship, 26TH JUNE 2016
A renewal of personal loyalty to Jesus and to his teaching seems to be the obvious theme today. One might begin by talking about decisions or choices. Few really important decisions are made without some regrets after the alternatives which had to be foregone, particularly if the choice made leads to difficulties or hardship. Some decisions are made once for all (e.g. to eat this cake); others have to be reaffirmed constantly (e.g. to love one’s spouse.) Our decision to follow Jesus is never without such regrets after the alternatives,and it must be constantly reaffirmed. Seldom do we really slaughter our oxen like Elisha; seldom do we co-operate fully with the Holy Spirit so as to be free from slavery to our weak humanity.
The following points seem to be suggested by the readings:
- The renunciation of the old way of life. This requires constant “conversion,” turning back to God and beginning again. This renunciation stresses the use of the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass.
- A personal commitment to Jesus which puts him first. This requires that we place his values first, and that we see in them our real happiness and fulfillment. We have not achieved real Christian freedom. We will need to listen to him, to be faithful to the Eucharist, to be aware of his presence within us, which must be cultivated by prayer. Following Jesus for us may require a practical decision, easy to make but hard to persevere with, to pay attention to him for ten minutes each day in prayer.
- Witness to Jesus, proclaiming the Kingdom with our lives. Paul knows that the most practical way we can do this is by loving our neighbour. This requires a serious attempt to live in harmony with those around us. There are plenty of would-be Christians who have not imbibed the spirit of their leader, like James and John in today’s gospel. They want God to “sort out” those who oppose them, and believe they have “cornered” God for their side.
- Perseverance. Keeping the hands to the plough and looking ahead and not back. By ourselves we will not be able to do it. We must not neglect the Spirit who has been given to us by the risen Christ. As Paul says, we must be “led by the Spirit,” guided by him. Perhaps it is because he is so conscious of the gift of the Spirit that Luke can make such demands on the disciples throughout his gospel. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, is a Blessing. He came not to curse us, but to bless us. He came not to hurt us, but to heal us. He came not to condemn us, but to forgive and redeem us. Stay blessed!!!