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COST OF COMMITMENT

Father Francis's picture
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16; Rom. 6:3-4, 8-11. Mt. 10:37-42.

Is our faith too casual and easy going? Could an entire history of the Church be written in terms of the ways we have devised to make our religious commitment as easy as possible? Do many of us think that merely going to Mass on Sunday will get us to heaven? If that is the case and if we take a long and hard look at the Gospel reading today we are in for a rude awakening. For the Gospel reading confronts us with other tests which cannot be taken so casually and fulfilled so easily.

Jesus was talking to His apostles. Perhaps He had seen in some of them this tendency to a casual, easy going religious faith. Or perhaps He was preparing them for their future ministry, warning them not to lower the standards of discipleship in order to recruit followers. In any case He says to them, 'Anyone who prefers father or mother, son or daughter to Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in My footsteps is not worthy of Me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it.'

Notice in that paragraph Jesus said nothing about going to Mass or professing a creed. Instead, He talked about some things that go far deeper and cost much more. This is not to discount the Mass or the creed. It is simply to say that if we practise them casually, they are not the kind of commitment that Jesus requires of His followers.

He calls for a heartfelt commitment that exceeds devotion to father or mother, son or daughter or anything else. Let us all try to answer this question honestly. All our lives are involved around so many things, but what do we consider as our chief priority? For some people it is drugs or drink, pleasure or the accumulation of money and everything takes second place to that, including their spouse and children. Other people have priorities which are not at all sordid and ugly.

For a wife, it may be her husband; and that is a lovely thing. For young parents, it may be their baby; and that, too, is a beautiful thing. For a teacher, it may be her work and her students. All these are good in themselves. But when we turn to our reading, we find Jesus challenging, not only the sordid and ugly, but even the high and the holy. Love for Him, He insists, must take precedence over love for father, mother, son or daughter. In every life there can be only one priority; and that is the love that Our Lord demands of us.

Next, He confronts our casual commitment with the challenge of the cross. 'Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.' We should keep in mind that Our Lord asks nothing of us that He did not first require of Himself. He clearly saw the cross at the end of His life, but He did not turn aside nor back away. He was crucified for loving and caring too deeply, and for speaking too plainly. By His death He has transformed the cross into a symbol of self-sacrifice as the only way of redemption.

That is what Jesus did for the whole world; and that is what He is calling on you and me to do. Is this the major reason why Christianity is so irrelevant today? We just will not redeem ourselves or our world because we have this half-hearted casual commitment to Christ.

Finally, Jesus confronts us with a call to practical service. Not only does He appeal for total commitment and love but He also asks to give to His little ones a cup of cold water. To some it may seem an anti-climax, but this is not so with Jesus. He always cared for the small things, such as a widow's two pennies and a peasant boy's lunch. Serving Christ and sharing His cross is seldom some big dramatic thing that claims the spotlight or grabs the headlines. The best way we can show our commitment to Jesus is by getting personally involved in the practical daily needs of people. When and if we do that, we will find ourselves bearing a cross. Caring for people is a costly thing. But let's be honest, is any other kind of religion better or worth the bother?

Lord Jesus, just as You put the will of Your Father before Your own, help us to put You before any other matter in our lives. Help us to make You our priority for You are God. In this way we will be winners.

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