- Fr. John Jennings
The Cost of Being a Christian
Bubbles, … physical distancing, masks – Covid 19 has given us many new experiences, some more challenging than others. I have to admit, those measures which have impeded socializing are the most difficult of all. Why do we take on those restrictions on what we have for so long seen as normal behavior? We do so for the sake of others, not to protect ourselves. They are sacrifices made for those we love and even for the strangers who come into our lives.
Selfless commitment and sacrifice play a huge role in human life and happiness, perhaps more than we normally might expect. The 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 life experiences. In each of them we can see something of what it means to “pay the price” for what we believe. 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 treasure. 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. 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). Jesus call for sacrifice, a willingness to give of ourselves. We disciples are asked to have the same commitment to love 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 Gospel.
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 ourselves aside for the sake of the other person. 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. It is the cost of relationship. It is the cost of discipleship. In paying this cost, we become the spirit of Jesus in our world and what a difference we can make!
Reflection Question ~ What are some specific, practical things I can do to express my commitment and dedication as a disciple of Jesus?