Cost of Discipleship
So, you want to follow Christ? Well, here’s the deal. There are only three requirements. That shouldn’t be too much! First you have to be willing to leave parents, siblings and all attachments or you can not be a disciple. Second, you have to sit down and count the personal cost and determine whether you have a chance at success, or you can not be a disciple.. Thirdly, you have to renounce all, yes, all of your possessions or you cannot be a disciple.
This is not a matter to be taken lightly. But that is what Jesus said! Many of us were born into the our faith tradition but at some point we need to make a real commitment to follow Jesus and his rule of life. The 21st century isn’t terribly different from the first century in some ways.
Leaving behind our primary support group-family, is just as hard now as then. For most people we can trust that family will always have our back but here is Jesus asking us to put all of our trust in Him alone. he will be our comfort and provide for all our material, emotional and spiritual needs. That requires a lot of trust if you want to be his disciple. Family may turn against you for your choice or may ridicule you or call you a religious fanatic. You might be persecuted by hate groups or censored by the government. You may be judged as a subversive influence and disloyal to your country. Your rights may be violated because you don’t support the woke agenda: LGBTQ, Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, abortion, socialism and you choose home schooling or Catholic schools over Public Education. You are a rebel!
Before choosing to be a disciple, then, sit down and weigh the cost as though you were going into battle. Do you have enough support troops and resources to see it through? However, Jesus does not want you to enter the battle for souls without the strength and knowledge of your faith and the self discipline of a deep prayer life, a commitment to persevere through hardships, fasting, criticism from colleagues or family. Can you live the life of sacrifice, courage, love and joyfulness?
Finally, Jesus asks you to renounce all your possessions. “ Go sell what. you have, give it to the poor and come follow me.” Some take that literally. But Jesus wants you to have no excess baggage to distract you from the goal of building the Kingdom. Managing our resources takes our time and attention away from building up the Kingdom. Of course you need the basics of life but you are called to live simply and use only what you need for a healthy life. Healthy not wealthy. But if you happen to be wealthy, then be generous with your resources.
Do you still want to be a disciple of Christ? This is radical living and throughout Christian history the followers of Christ have experimented with various interpretations of how to live this way. Some became hermits and lived in the desert; a life of prayer and self mortification. Others gathered in community with a strict rule of life which laid the foundation for many religious orders. Most Christians from the earliest days found ways to live the Christian way of life as Jesus outlined through family prayer, daily Mass and service to those in need. Today some are choosing what is called the Benedict Option.
In the 21st century, surrounded by so much affluence and social pressure it is difficult to be faithful and lead a simple life of charity and prayer. But it can be done and many do. It helps if you. can find others who are like-minded to be a support group in small communities within their parishes.
The early Christians lived under a pagan Roman rule, were persecuted amid an evil and decadent culture and ours is no different. They faced mockery, banishment, and death. We too, are seeing more violence against Christian churches, clergy and christian business in our own country. Every age has had to face what we face daily and every age of persecution produces martyrs and saints. Jesus promised to be always with us. Be not afraid.