I’d rather be a hammer than a nail. I’d rather be avoiding doing bad than proactively being good. I’d rather be minding my own life than be trying to contribute to the life of others. I’d rather take the easier options in my faith life and then count on God’s mercy at its end. I’d rather be lukewarm than a disciple.
There is a cost to discipleship but come to think about it, there is a cost to our every pursuit. It is just that some costs are immediately rewarded while others will take a lifetime. Pursuing success in career is not without cost. It demands sacrifice; time away from family then maybe riches in place of enriching family ties. Some relationships survive these demands, some unfortunately don’t.
What do we want out of life? Or what does life expect out of me? For many of us especially when we do not have the right pursuit, it may take a lifetime for us to discover our own answer to these questions. If we are fortunate to review our entire life once before we die, what would we have hoped to achieve? What legacy would we want to leave behind?
The Book of Wisdom this past Sunday said, “The reasonings of mortals are unsure and our intentions unstable; for a perishable body presses down the soul, and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind. It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth, laborious to know what lies within our reach; who then, can discover what is in the heavens?”
For me, and I am sure for many of you, I want to leave a legacy of love. Love must survive me. Love must always be passed on. This is my pursuit in life. The faith I have chosen to believe, the spiritual life I try to follow, puts me on the path of this pursuit. This is what discipleship means to me.
The cost of discipleship comes from the tension of different intensions. Love is not self-love or family serving love. It is true love, unconditional in its pouring. Discipleship calls for sacrifice, proactively doing to contribute positively to the life of others, from self for the other, from own family for the other family. There is tension on this pursuit; how much do we keep for self, how much do we give? The further along we pursue this path of discipleship, the more we give, the more the tension, the higher the cost.
“If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Gospel)
Giving is not only material giving. Giving is giving up all our possessions, our earthly desires for self-gratification. The time we have is also a treasured possession. Our time is our life. We are called to give away our time, give up this life so as to follow the way of Christ. Discipleship is intentionally picking up our cross to follow him.
“So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.”
Discipleship. The reward for this pursuit is only found at the end of this earthly journey. God’s mercy will be accorded at this end by how we had travelled rather than how we arrived. I’d rather be a snail than a sparrow.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time