The cost of discipleship
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Reading: Luke 9:22-25
Jesus said to his disciples: The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously; to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all He said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it.What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost his very self?’
In this reflection, Jesus pulls no punches about the cost of discipleship. He is a disciple of his heavenly Father and he tells us that he will be rejected by the official church of his day, cast aside and put to death. His self-gift will be total as he lays down his life for the salvation of the world. Through the grace of baptism, we are invited into a deep, personal relationship of discipleship of Jesus. Genuine discipleship, for us too is costly. Suffering will come in the daily trials of life and we are asked, like Jesus to embrace the cross and deepen our relationship with him through it. The cross will purify our lives but if we are to grown in knowledge and love of him, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and follow wherever he leads us. So often, this journey takes us into new and unknown paths but we have to trust him completely and ‘be aware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he! And ‘The time is near!” Do not go after them. (Luke 21:8) Perdition is implied in this warning but we are invited to keep our eyes ever focused on him. He desires that we ‘have life and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10) the ultimate reward of discipleship of the Master which he wishes all to enjoy.
Lord, your words to us that tell us about your forthcoming suffering are too awful to contemplate. Why should you, my God, suffer so grievously?
I ask your forgiveness for the many times that I have betrayed you and led you to your death. I ask forgiveness for the times when my heart has rejected your cross in my life. Help me to keep my life focused on you as I deepen my commitment to discipleship with you. I make this prayer in your name, O Lord of all life. Amen.