“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
The desire for God is written into every human heart, so we should all have some sense of what Jesus demands of us as His disciples. Maybe that’s why many of us turn Him down when He calls us to be one, because we fear the weight of our crosses. I wonder how many aspirants in today’s Gospel abandoned the idea altogether when they learned what Jesus required of them.
Jesus warned us that it would be demanding. He wants us to look hard at what it’ll cost us and to consider the suffering that comes with it. He tells us to renounce our possessions and put Him first before our families and even our own lives!
It’s a severe message Luke’s Gospel brings, but as St. Paul tells us in our first reading, we must make every effort to persevere for our salvation and the salvation of others. Fortunately, we learn quickly that material possessions become less important to us the more we hunger for Jesus’ presence.
When we put Jesus before our own families, He sends us grace to see that He created the ones we love and they are His gifts to us. Without Him we have nothing, and that’s why we love Him more; that’s why we love Him first.
In reality, accepting the call is the most difficult part, but Jesus comes at once to give us courage and each trial leaves us with tremendous strength and even joy. As disciples we put to use all Jesus reveals to us, to accept our crosses with patience, speak our faith with courage and to bear witness to it with confidence, even at the cost of our own lives.
Such strength should have us repeating the words St. Paul left for us, “Even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.” (Philippians 2:17)
With more joy than ever imagined, we push forward as disciples of Christ. Some will think we’ve given up a great deal, but we’re still the same stars. We’re just shining brighter in a world that so desperately needs His light. e.
Happy St. Teresa of Calcutta Day!