Introduction to the Celebration
We have gathered here because we are disciples of the Lord Jesus: we have chosen his way as our way. Today he reminds us that this is no easy choice for his way led to the cross. He reminds us: ‘Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.’ Discipleship embraces every aspect of our lives. Discipleship means that we have to plan for the best way to live our lives in the light of his truth. Yet, we all fall short of that way, we follow other paths, we avoid the cross, we think of the immediate rather than the goal of life. So as we gather for this meal of discipleship, let us renew our commitment to the way of the Lord and ask pardon for our deviations from it.
General Textual comments
- verses 28 to 32: the practical approach to discipleship.
Discipleship of Jesus takes many forms and we interpret this passage in the light of the particular form of discipleship to which we have committed ourselves – marriage, parenting, friendship, career, religious life or priesthood. We think of other commitments we and others make: to social change for example – bringing about reconciliation between ethnic groups or religions, or reforming economic, educational or political systems, locally or internationally.
Jesus-faithful to our commitments requires many renunciations.
– rules and regulations;
– identity that comes from belonging to a group, a movement, an institution, a political party;
– comforting passages in the scriptures;
– inward-looking cozy communities;
these can all be “possessions” and eventually we realize that we must “give them up”.
– parents seek help for crippled, deformed or retarded children they had been hiding in their homes;
– citizens take the risk of going against their governments’ oppressive policies
– church members speak out against injustice in their communities
– an Israeli speaks up for Palestinians, a Northern Ireland Catholic for Protestants,
– a Sicilian against the mafia.
This is one those gospel passages that makes us stop in our tracks. The idea of hating anybody is far removed from the message of Jesus, so how come today he tells us that we cannot be his followers if we do not first hate our parents and other family members?
Give another moment to let this question settle.
Then conclude by pointing out that if you believe then you have to draw conclusions for how you live your life.
Lord, we remember with gratitude those people who,
turned and spoke words that seemed harsh at the time, telling us
– to break ties;
– to step out in faith;
– to harden our hearts;
– not to be afraid to cause pain to the people we love.
helped us to be true to our deeper selves.
let go of father, mother, brothers and sisters,
yes and their own image of themselves too.
We thank you for great parents and teachers
who when their children want to continue accompanying them,
turn and speak to them as Jesus did,
telling them that they must not be afraid to hurt those who are dear to them,
but must take up their own crosses so that they can be truly his disciples.
they are subjected to pressure from peer groups, consumerism, materialism, fads and fashions.
– to become the great people you want them to be,
- to harden their hearts so that they can follow their own path,
– not to be afraid to give up their feelings of security and assume their responsibilities.
Lord, as we look back on our lives we see projects that we started,
and which, later, we found ourselves unable to finish:
– a marriage broke up;
– we dropped out of school or college;
– we left the religious life or the priesthood;
– gave up a political commitment that was too demanding;
– stopped meditating.
We hear voices, some of them within our own hearts, making fun of us,
saying, “Here are people who started to build and were unable to finish”;
and indeed we had not sat down and worked out the cost
to see if we had the resources to complete what we had begun.
– employers trying to work for good industrial relations;
– leaders challenging a church community to become involved in the secular world.
they are inclined to sue for peace even though their opponents are still a long way off.
Send them Jesus to remind them
that unless they are willing to give up the desire for quick results,
and carry the cross of failure, they cannot be his disciples.
Similarly, says Jesus, no one can be a disciple of His who is not ready to let go of everything he thinks to be of such importance that he sets God aside and gives God little time and attention.
4. The mark of a great leader
Bartholomew was flayed alive
James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded
The other James (son of Alphaeus) was beaten to death
Thomas was run through with a lance
Matthias was stoned and then beheaded
Matthew was slain by the sword
Peter was crucified upside down
Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows
Philip was hanged
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.
The demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery.
From Father Tony Kadavil's Collection:
1. We will drill you, and drill you, then drill you again:
Each Fall, a lot of young boys aspire to become football players. But only a few will find their way onto the high school or university teams. Every year a coach challenges the hopefuls, explaining the cost involved: “Your muscles will ache from calisthenics. We'll run you till you think you can run no more. We will drill you and drill you, then drill you again, every day, after school. There'll be no drugs, no alcohol. Only if you work hard will you make the team. If you don't, you won't.” The personal, economic, and emotional cost of becoming an Olympic or professional athlete is still higher. Young children spend hours a day practicing their skills and submitting themselves to rigorous programs of diet and exercise to become great gymnasts or dancers. Others accept the cost of dedicating years to study and hard work to become outstanding doctors or lawyers or scientists or writers. In today’s gospel, Jesus challenges his would-be followers to calculate the cost in following him, because they will have to leave their families and possessions and accept the pain and suffering involved in following him as true disciples.