Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple .For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Lots of people, a gathering crowd, came around Jesus. “Wait a minute,” he says. “Do you see what’s at stake?” Here he is on a life and death journey, toward Jerusalem. So he presses his followers, to help them sort it out, how deep is their trust? What do they hold on to? Finally we have to sort out our motivation. What kind of follower am I?
Back in graduate school, I was a follower of a certain kind, able to attend the best classes, to look good and do good. But then you see there’s more to it, if you’re going to be a disciple, to confess all you don’t know, to look for a way to the goal even though it would involve setting aside your attachments to ease and image and to what everybody else is doing.
I think that’s what Jesus is going for here, to help the casual follower sift through to the essentials and become a disciple. It’s then no longer just being good, or getting along to satisfy expectations. There’s got to be something else. It leads to this crucial prayer, looking as directly as we can toward the one we are starting to love. “I’m not getting it. I’m looking for more. I’m looking for You.” That’s where it is. The rest falls away. You step into a new relationship. Now everything he says becomes more important, involving, more wild and challenging and true. It’s time to step up.
—Fr. Richard Bollman, S.J., a Jesuit of the Chicago-Detroit province, has been the long-time pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel of Xavier University, Cincinnati. He now works with Xavier’s Center for Mission and Identity.
Lord, your truth is hard to hear. No room for a sugarcoating discipleship. When we surrender our will to you, the cross becomes our companion. It’s tough to risk reputation, to walk away from a friendship, to start over, or be misrepresented because we value faithfulness to you above all else. Why are we always surprised when we suffer from the truth? You tell us this reality is inevitable.
Is the cost worth it? Do we really want to make this long distance run for you? If we never ask these questions, we simply drift as a hostage shackled to the ups and downs of life. Lord, we place all of our hopes in you. We trust that our cross will create a space for you to dwell. And there we will experience a peace and a fulfillment that brings meaning to what otherwise could be senseless suffering.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!