Following Jesus Christ is not easy. He makes that clear in the Gospel this Sunday (Luke
14:25-33) with two major directives for His disciples.
First, Jesus directs us that selfless, self-giving love is essential to discipleship, as He
says in the Gospel that our love for God must surpass all our human notions of love, and that “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” Our Lord’s path of selfless love is difficult, but it is the only one worth walking, for the reward is eternal life in Heaven.
Jesus’ second directive is that following Him in selfless love requires more than a feeling or vague inspiration. He wants us to put our reason and intelligence to work. To follow Jesus and love Him with all our being is more than an emotion – it is an act of our will. That’s why Jesus gives the examples of the builder and the king, for they had to temper their zeal with the gift of reason. As disciples of Christ, we cannot use our feelings about things or about other people as excuses for not following Jesus. Our feelings about various aspects of life, love, relationships and human existence, can sometimes get disconnected from God’s directives – directives rooted in His Word and teachings. If we rely solely on feelings, apart from our reason and intellect, then the conversion that Christ wants for us at the level of our heart and soul might not occur or last very long. Faith along with reason bears the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Following Christ is not a one-time decision – rather, it is a daily and life-long decision that engages the whole person.
So how do we follow Jesus’ discipleship directives? We can re-commit ourselves to prayer (talk to and listen to God, in communion with Him) – pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and grace before meals; begin and end our day with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all He has done and is doing in our lives; read the Bible in a prayerful way; if you’re married, pray with your spouse and your children. In our love for Jesus, we can follow His directives, by: keeping His Commandments ( John 14-15); frequenting Confession as needed (a Sacrament of healing, forgiveness and conversion; Matthew 16, John 20, 2 Corinthians 5); attending and praying at Mass each week; and consciously doing corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which include forgiving and praying for others. Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) has said that “being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat… Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies… We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Let us strive, by God’s grace, to love and follow Jesus more each day, and encourage others, by our words and manner of life, to do the same.
With peace and prayers in Christ,