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The Price of Following Jesus
Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be your witness in my daily life, so that others may come to know, love, and follow you.
- Decision Time: How often we prefer the cozy and cuddly Jesus who carries the sheep on his shoulders or embraces the little children with tenderness! And that he is. But like all persons, there are many facets to him. In this passage, he speaks forcefully because he knows what is at stake. His words sound harsh. He comes to bring the sword and division among family members. This must have been very difficult for the Twelve to hear. Yet, they may have already experienced it as they followed Jesus around the Galilean region and found the life of a disciple quite challenging. Every day they made a radical choice to follow him. Today too, Jesus doesn’t want fence-sitters. He wants followers.
- Choosing Christ to Be Another Christ: The consequences of following Jesus are not always pleasant. You may be shunned or an obstacle may arise between you and those you love. In these moments, remember what is at stake and decide whom you follow. To follow Christ does require a certain death to self, to comforts and conveniences, to changes of lifestyles or attitudes. But new life arises. The heart of Christ is formed in each follower. We suffer, as well as rejoice with and in him.
- The Reward: Jesus reminds us that we will receive a reward for being his heart in the world. The reward is both immediate and eternal. Here and now, we receive the joy of serving others, recognizing Jesus in them, and sharing our compassion, charity, and mercy. We are transformed by the grace of faith. The Trinity makes its home within us more and more deeply. This experience is a taste of heaven on earth, and he is with us until the final consummation in which we are drawn into the bosom of Trinitarian love for eternity. How beautiful it will be to arrive at the “pearly gates,” and upon opening them the Father will recognize the image of the Son imprinted firmly within our hearts.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me keep my heart fixed on you and your desires, so as to recognize how to follow and serve you in all people. Let me not fear the cross or consequences of discipleship, for my reward will be that you recognize me at the end of time and welcome me into your eternal embrace.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for ways to be your heart in this world and try not to count the costs.
For Further Reflection: The Cost of Discipleship, Dr. Brant Pitre.
Written by Jennifer Ristine.