Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Discipleship is tough. Today’s gospel reading makes that clear. It is helpful to remember what Jesus said earlier in the Gospel of Luke: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Lk 8:21). Jesus has redefined what “family” means; for him, the natural ties of blood are secondary to the ties of discipleship. Following Jesus is demanding and has consequences – real demands and real consequences.
Here’s the thing, though: Luke makes it clear that, if we embrace the Gospel, we will always have family, our sisters and brothers in the Church, the family of believers formed by baptism and nourished together at the Eucharistic table.
—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. serves John Carroll University, University Heights, OH, as professor education. He is also the Rector of the Jesuit community there.
Lord, your truth is hard to hear. When we surrender our will to you, the cross becomes our companion. It’s tough to risk reputation, to walk away from a friendship, to start over, or be misrepresented because we value faithfulness to you above all else. Why are we always surprised when we suffer from the truth? You tell us this reality is inevitable. Is the cost worth it? Do we really want to make this long distance run for you? If we never ask these questions, we simply drift a hostage to the ups and downs of life. Lord, we place all of our hopes in you. We trust that our cross will create a space for you to dwell. And there we will experience a peace and a fulfillment that brings meaning to what otherwise could be senseless suffering.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team