The WORD in Other Words by Sister Angelita Roferos SSpS (Philippines) for Wednesday Week 31 in Ordinary Time
The punch line of this Gospel is v.33, “…no one of you may become my disciple if he (she) does not give up everything he (she) has.” Strong words! One discouraging, if not shocking, news is when a priest or a religious leaves the consecrated life after having lived that life for quite a number of years for many reasons.
Young priests or religious, fresh from initial formation are usually ardent in their love for God, fervent in their vocation, enthusiastic in their apostolic ministry. They shine as paragons of Christian life and as models to idealistic impressionable youngsters.
However, if their initial spiritual formation is not sustained by spiritual guidance, the danger is eminent. These young or middle—aged consecrated persons might slowly slink while riding high on their success and popularity. God becomes out of focus; the self comes to the fore. Self—aggrandizement becomes priority, forgetting that their ministry is a partnership with God. When pride and personal ambition take over, the devil is on hand with all sorts of inveiglements. When spiritual energy dwindles and wanes, physical fatigue follows, emotional temperature rises and the consecrated person catapults to another god.
Consecrated life is a special vocation, embracing the three evangelical counsels: Poverty — loving God above all things, Chastity — loving God above all creatures, Obedience — loving God above oneself. A radical following of Christ! Christ needs disciples who commit themselves to Him once and for all. No turning back.
Following of Christ holds true for all lay Christians too. Many lay Catholics are only “sacramentalized but not evangelized” as PJP II aptly puts it. Receiving the sacraments without proper knowledge and practice of the faith and of the basic Christian doctrines does not make one a follower of Christ.