In not just any way
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. The Evangelist tells us that “great crowds were traveling” with him. Jesus, however, has no illusions. He does not let himself be fooled by the populace’s facile enthusiasm. What worries many people today is how the number of Christians keeps decreasing. What interested Jesus more was the quality of his followers rather than their number.
He suddenly turns to that multitude and begins to speak to them of the concrete demands that going with him consciously and responsibly entails. He does not want them to follow him in just any way. To be Jesus’ disciple is a decision that should completely mark a person for life.
Jesus speaks to them first of the family. Those people have their own families—fathers and mothers, wives and children, brothers and sisters. They are their dearest and most intimate loved ones. But unless they set aside family interests so as to collaborate with him in fostering a human family that is not based on blood ties but is built out of justice and brotherly and sisterly solidarity, they cannot be his disciples.
Jesus is not thinking of doing away with homes and eliminating family affection and togetherness. But if someone puts before everything his family’s honor, patrimony, heritage or comfort, such a person cannot be his disciple nor can he work with him in the project of a world fit for human beings.
Still more. If someone only thinks of himself and his possessions and affairs, if someone lives only to enjoy his comfort, if he is only concerned about his own interests, making sure he is not deceived, he cannot be Jesus’ disciple. He lacks inner freedom, consistency and responsibility to take him seriously.
Jesus continues to speak of the stark reality: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” If one lives avoiding problems and conflicts, if he does not know how to take risks and hardships, if he is not ready to endure sufferings for the kingdom of God and his justice, he cannot be a disciple of Jesus.
One cannot be a Christian in just any manner. We cannot mistake Christian life for lifestyles that disfigure the humble yet responsible following of Jesus and empty it of its content.
Surprising is Pope Francis’ taking the liberty to denounce the styles of Christians that have little to do with Jesus’ disciples: “Christians of good manners and bad habits,” “museum believers,” “hypocrites of casuistry,” “Christians incapable of going against the current,” “corrupt” Christians who only think of themselves, “educated Christians” who do not preach the Gospel ….
José Antonio Pagola
September 8, 2013
23 Ordinary Time (C)
Luke 14, 25-33