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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ The Cost of Being a Disciple of Jesus

Seeking and research, embarking into territory that is new and unfamiliar can be exciting and absorbing. It is often time-consuming, uncertain and threatening as well. To go where we have never been or into something we have never done might be best described as… “scary”. But whether it is taking up a new job, moving to a new place, entering a new school, studying a new topic or meeting and beginning a new relationship it will be a challenge. It demands risk, effort and commitment. Normally, it also means giving up something old, in order to take on something different and new – change.

Selfless commitment and sacrifice (giving up) play a huge role in human life and happiness, perhaps more than we normally might expect. The new or married couple, each of whom sets aside their own desires and preferences for the sake of the other certainly shows commitment born in love. The parents who give up their own comfort and wants for the good of their children can often be heroic in their sacrifices. Examples such as this, small and great surround our many life experiences. In each of them we can see something of what it means to “pay the price” for what we believe and undertake. Committed love calls for sacrifice.

It is such selfless commitment that is called for in Christian discipleship. It is the cost of discipleship. One cannot live as a disciple of Jesus without making a commitment in love that has demands on our time, talent and energies. It asks much of us to live as a disciple of Jesus whose sacrifice was so great.

In the Gospel of this Sunday (Matt.16:21-27), we hear Jesus tell his disciples that he is to face suffering and death. He also reassures them that he will rise again. But he cannot rise unless he sacrifices and dies. His selfless commitment to sacrifice himself for us will ultimately lead to resurrection. That is, through his commitment he will bring life.

As Matthew relates this story we hear Jesus tell his disciples that they are called to do as he does. They will follow him: If anyone wants to become my follower, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Matt.16:24). From a disciple, Jesus demands sacrifice, a willingness to give of ourselves. Like Jesus himself, we disciples are asked to have the same commitment as he showed. In doing so, we, like Jesus have the power to bring life to others and to our world. But it does make demands of us. Being Christian is not just about receiving. More important is our willingness to give, to offer our own life, time, energy and attention for the Good News.

But isn’t this commitment and dedication what is asked of us in any life-giving relationship. In all our friendships, our marriages, our families and so many other relationships there is a call for commitment and a call for setting myself aside for the sake of the other person or for a cause. It is this self-giving that brings life to our relationships and allows them to continue and grow. As we grow in life, we discover that it is not all about me. Every relationship is richer and more life-filled when we sacrifice for the other or something greater than ourselves. It is the cost of relationship and of life-fulfilling.

If the Gospel, if our faith is to have value for us, it has a cost. The cost is the sacrifice Jesus revealed in his own life. In his commitment, he set himself aside for the sake of others, of us. This is our cost of being disciples – sharing time, energy and gifts for others – that the world may have life and have it abundantly. In this we become the spirit of Jesus in our world and what a difference we can make!

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