The story is told about a priest who told his congregation: “I have in my hands three sermons: a P100 sermon that lasts for five minutes, a P50 sermon that lasts for 20 minutes, and a P20 sermon that lasts for one hour. Now, we will take up the collection and see which one I will deliver.” Heard that the collection went up that Sunday, and the attendees increased as well from then on.
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 9, 51-62), Jesus told His followers the cost of discipleship—that of denying oneself and giving up one’s comfort zones, possessions and loved ones, and even facing opposition, rejection and persecution.
Jesus rebuked His disciples who wanted to call down fire from heaven on those that did not welcome them. In clear terms, Jesus reminds us again today that discipleship is not about power, privileges and entitlement.
From the very start, for Jesus, the core of discipleship was never about money and power. Sad to say, there are many preachers who use the name and the Gospel of Jesus for material gain and abundance. Discipleship is all about spreading the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this and that preacher or this and that healer, or this and that group or community.
Below are the basic elements of true discipleship: (1) Koinonia—prayer, a personal relationship with God and community; (2) Diakonia—service, apostolate, outreach; (3) Kerygma—evangelization, witnessing and proclamation of God’s kingdom.
Below are the “symptoms” of true discipleship: (1) joy; (2) humility; (3) sacrifice; (4) perseverance; (5) diligence; (6) patience; (7) courage; (8) obedience. (Maybe you can add some more!)
Sign seen outside a church: “You are not too bad to come in, you are not too good to stay out.” The call for discipleship is for everyone. Everybody welcome! Discipleship happens when we focus more on the kingdom of God and the work to be done, and less on our worthiness.
One piece of advice that has kept me going all these years is what our novice master told us years ago: “God chooses not so much the worthy instrument, but the willing instrument.” As long as we are willing, God will use us.
I reside now at the Mission Home in Christ the King Seminary where our Filipino SVD missionaries working overseas come and go. It is very inspiring to hear the courage and zeal of those who are going to their foreign mission assignment, and the mission experience of those coming home for vacation. Indeed, “it is only bodies that are separated, but hearts remain united in Him for whom the sacrifice is made of leaving all that is dearest.”
Let us pray for more vocations to priestly and religious life. We need men and women who are willing to sacrifice, and follow our Lord, and serve His people. Beyond making a living or making a name, there is a call from the Lord to make a difference in this world by being His disciple. For vocation inquiries, please contact (02) 7265002 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think about this: “Trust in the Lord’s timing; don’t be in a hurry; don’t be impatient and don’t try to force doors to open; and don’t try to make things happen by your own brute force. God has His way, and His timetable, for all of our hearts’ desires.”
Here’s a reminder for worriers and control freaks: “You relax on a plane though you don’t know the pilot; you relax in a ship though you don’t know the captain; you relax in a bus though you don’t know the driver; why don’t you relax in life, knowing that God is in control?”
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, teach us to generously, gratefully and joyfully follow You. Amen.