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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fr. Bob Warren's This Week's Reflection: The Cost of Discipleship

Franciscan Friars
Franciscan Friars
The Cost of Discipleship
(Luke 14:25-33)
In Luke 14:25-33 we read that large crowds were coming to Jesus. The movement He started with a dozen men was swelling with converts. How pleased the disciples must have been. They had risked all. Now their investment must have seemed like a gold mine. How confident and successful they appeared, surrounded by popular appeal and growing numbers. It seemed the sky was the limit.
Until Jesus opened his mouth and said if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Talk about letting the air out of the balloon! What a career ending sound bite that would make on the evening news. Hate parents and family? Jesus, tell us You do not mean it. You are the one who taught us to even love our enemies. Why are You making the conditions so hard? Why make us choose between You and our family? Couldn't Christianity be more successful and popular if You eased up on all of us? Are You sure you know what You are doing?
Jesus, of course, knew what He was doing. He wanted to make sure those following Him knew what they were doing. He wants to alert would-be followers that the hill is steep in the places that they will be asked to climb.
Jesus knew that the crowd surrounding Him was not ready for the journey that awaits them as His followers. To follow Christ is a risk because faith is not just nice thoughts and feelings. Christ came to call us to bear a cross, not just attend Palm Sunday parades. The saying about hating family is shocking, but not as shocking as it sounds to our ears. In the first century, to hate in such a comparative statement means to love less than. When St. Matthew translates these same sayings, Jesus says, "If you love your family more than me, you cannot be my disciple." Is Jesus advocating a renunciation of all family loyalties? No, Jesus picked the most cherished and most honorable of earthly relationships to illustrate a point. Even the highest and noblest of relationships must pale in comparison to the love and loyalty to God. The lesson is plain to see.
To paraphrase St. Ignatius, perseverance in discipleship means giving without counting the cost, fighting without heeding the wounds, toiling without seeking rest and laboring without asking for reward, save that of knowing that you are doing His work.
Today's message is that nothing in our lives comes before God. But this is not new. We have heard it all before. You shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. The Ten Commandments tell us I am the Lord, your God, and you shall have no other Gods before me. As Jesus told us, "I am the way, the truth and the life. There is no other."
Fr. Robert Warren
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
Franciscan Friars
Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
— Graymoor —
P.O. Box 301, Garrison, NY 10524
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