Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:25-27)
There is a radical nature involving discipleship in the Lord. Jesus indicated it quite often in the gospels. It surfaces again in today’s gospel.
Jesus tells His people that they must be “all in” when it comes to serving Him. They must be ready to turn their backs on all that they know, all that they value, all that they desire in this world in order to be a disciple.
This is not really something that goes against our nature. There are many people who practice the “all in” approach in their professional lives.
Surgeons must be all in when it comes to operating on a patient. They cannot be focused on anything other than the problem at hand. If they allow themselves to get distracted, it could have dire results on the patient. That carries a certain amount of sacrifice with it. Many times, doctors are performing extremely demanding surgeries. The surgery time goes well beyond meal time. It goes well beyond the boundaries of physical comfort. Oftentimes, they remain hovering over a patient in an uncomfortable position because that offers the best perspective to the operating field.
People engaged in sports realize this as well. If they do not cut themselves off from other people and other activities, they will not be able to play optimally.
Thus it is with our spiritual life. We must be able to cut ourselves off from anything that might prove a distraction to our faith, even if it mean family, friends, or our own life. Unless we can rely totally upon God, we will not be able to consider ourselves all in.
This, most definitely, may be one of the crosses in life that we will be asked to bear. None of us likes to think about the possibility of cutting ourselves off from family or friends and other people or experiences that bring us comfort. However, we know that we are in this for the long haul. If we let anything get in the way of the Lord, eternity may slip from our grasp.
It is time to end this reading and to make a decision. Are you all in or do you fold? Ask God to show you why it is so important for you to take up your cross today. Perhaps once you understand the invitation it will be easier for you to shoulder the burden.
FAITH ACTION: Reflect upon the words of the song:
Take up your cross, the Savior said,
If you would My disciple be;
Deny yourself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after Me.
Take up your cross, let not its weight
Fill your weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear your spirit up,
And brace your heart and nerve your arm.