Discipleship. We hear this in the Gospel this weekend.
“Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
– Luke 14:33
But what is a Disciple? According to the dictionary, it is “someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of another.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
(key to this week’s bulletin puzzle is below):
In other words, to be a Disciple of Christ (that’s what a Christian is), we must:
- Accept the teachings of Christ; and
- Help spread the teachings of Christ.
Simple enough. But is it simple to do?
Monsignor Charles Pope lists four points:
First, Be careful about following the crowd.
In the scriptures, whenever there is a large crowd, Jesus gives us a very important teaching, but it also is a way he uses to winnow the crowd to sift out the true followers:
…it is a common pattern that Jesus thins the ranks and distinguishes the many who are called from the few who are chosen.
This is a fact not only in the Scriptures but it also remains true that the Lord has often had to prune his Church. Even now we are seeing a large falling away, a kind of pruning as large numbers depart who are not able to take the “hard sayings” of Jesus and the Scriptures about sexuality, forgiveness, love of one’s enemies, heroic charity and generosity, and so forth. The CONTEXT of discipleship is with the few, rather than the many.
Second, “We cannot prefer anyone or anything to Jesus.”
The Lord must be our first preference, our priority. Msgr. Pope warns us:
We need to attend to this since too many of our human relationships cause us to sinfully compromise our walk with Jesus. Some people have too much power, a power that belongs to the Lord.
Third, there is no way we can share in Christ’s glory if we do not accept the Cross.
It is a simple rule: No cross, No crown. There are some who want to preach a prosperity gospel. There are others who demand a gospel stripped of its moral imperatives. Still others demand an updated faith that tickles their ears and affirms their aberrant behavior.
But Jesus points to the Cross, not to torture us, but because it is the only way to glory.In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Now, for a little while you may have to suffer various trials…(1 Peter 1:6). And this wisdom is already evident, when we consider that even in this world, all of what we most value, Family, talents, career, achievements, all came at the cost of sacrifice. Sacrifices bring blessings. Jesus is not into pain for its own sake, but because sacrifice brings blessings.
Lastly, Discipleship is Costly.
Jesus gives the image of someone building a tower or of a king going to battle. But, truth be told, these examples are distant from us. So Jesus brings it home and says to us: anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.
The Greek word ἀποτάσσω (apotasso) translated here as “renounce” also means, “to say farewell.” And the Lord is reminding us that heaven costs everything. Ultimately we must say farewell to everyone and everything we consider precious here in order to inherit heaven. This of course is not something that waits merely for death….
But at another level the Lord is clear to say here that we must be willing to part with anything that hinders discipleship now, not later. The fact is that many things attach us to this world and make discipleship difficult. Are we willing to de-clutter our life, simplify and get more focused on being disciples? Or will we go on setting down roots here and amassing a worldly kingdom?
The decision is ultimately ours … we must count the cost.
Read Monsignor Pope’s whole article here.
Answer Key to this week's Bulletin Puzzle: DISCIPLE BUILD COST TOWER COMPLETE CROSS FOLLOW MONEY FINISH CARRY (Did you get them all?)