SAINT IRENAEUS, BISHOP AND MARTYR (MEMORIAL)
Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.
One thing is clear from today’s Gospel (Matthew 8:18-22): Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat the cost of discipleship. For Jesus’ followers, it might just mean not having a place to sleep at night or not being able to say good-bye to a dying parent. Countless Christians over the centuries have even paid the ultimate price with the sacrifice of their lives. So when we read these words today, we feel more than a little anxious. “If I follow Jesus wholeheartedly, what will it cost me?”
If you think about it, however, you are probably already paying a price. Following Jesus means that you have to battle temptations to sin, maybe daily. It might also mean a less prestigious career path that enables you to spend more time with your family or to serve your parish. It might mean living more simply so that you can give generously to those in need. In all these ways and more, we make sacrifices to follow Jesus.
So why would anyone decide to be a disciple? For the same reason that so many people in Jesus’ time chose to follow him: they couldn’t resist him. His look radiated God’s unconditional love and mercy and his words spoke to the deepest desires of their hearts. We too know that there’s nowhere else where we will find what we are really looking for: the love that covers a multitude of sins; the joy of being known, accepted, and forgiven; and the hope of living forever with God in heaven.
Even so, there will be days when the demands of discipleship will cause you to wonder whether it’s worth it. It’s tempting to look at people on the wide road and wonder why you’re plodding along on the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14). Following Jesus always means, in one way or another, following him to the cross. But just as he triumphed in the end, so will you when you join him in heaven. In the meantime, you can count on Jesus to be with you, pouring out his love and grace to help you follow him, no matter what the cost.
“Thank you, Jesus, for inviting me to follow you. Help me to respond today without counting the cost.”
Psalm 103:1-4, 8-11
WORD AMONG US