Jesus confirms the astounding absolute commitment He requires of His disciples. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Fortitude from the Holy Spirit so he can be prepared to sacrifice for Jesus Christ and by seeking the Gift of Counsel from the Spirit so he can receive the Spirit’s help in the battle against vice and sin.
23rd Week in Ordinary time – Sunday – Cycle C – Lk 14:25-33; 31st Week in Ordinary time – Wednesday – Lk 14:25-33
Jesus now challenges the growing crowd of followers with the cost of discipleship to separate the curious from the committed. The Mediterranean and Jewish culture of the 1st century valued family and kin bonds above everything. Jesus’ emphatic revelation that disciples must “hate” (idiomatic term meaning “to love less”) family is startling. Elsewhere (Mt 10:37), Jesus reveals those who love family members more than Him are “not worthy of Me.” Also startling is Jesus’ command that disciples must pick up their cross, a familiar instrument of gruesome death used by the Romans to punish criminals and intimidate the men they conquered.
Jesus calls His disciples to be prudent, warning that shame and humiliation comes to failed disciples. Drawing from His experience as a carpenter, Jesus describes a foolish man who imprudently attempts to build a tower but immediately runs out of funds and is mocked. Likewise, those who wish to build a life as a disciple of Jesus must be prepared to bear the full cost of discipleship, including the loss of family and the enduring sacrifice and pain of carrying one’s cross, or face self-humiliation and being mocked by others due to their failure. Jesus uses a military example of how a king who is contemplating war with an inadequate army must beg for peace or be destroyed; a disciple must prudently weigh the heavy costs, and the eternal benefits, of discipleship before following Jesus.
Summing up, Jesus sets the bar exceptionally high for men who wish to follow Him: “…whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.” A man must both understand the cost of discipleship and be willing to pay it; there is no other way to be a disciple except by an informed and complete commitment.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Soberly consider the astounding level of commitment that Jesus, the Divine King, requires of His disciples: He Challenges disciples to have an absolute commitment to Him, putting Him above family, possessions and even the preservation of their own lives when persecution comes; Divine Judge, Jesus rejects those who do not make an absolute commitment (“can not be My disciple); the perfection of Prudence, Jesus challenges disciples to prudently determine their commitment to discipleship, guiding them with examples (construct a tower, go to war) of prudent thinking.
Be fortified by the Spirit to sacrifice for Christ
Realize: A Catholic man’s lukewarm faith is worth little; Jesus demands the full commitment of His men, to the point of being willing to renounce everything to be His disciple.
Believe: Reflect upon the sacrifice of the Way of the Cross (CCC 1344, 1435, 1816, 2015, 2233, 2427, 2470, 2669).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Fortitude so I have the burning desire, heroic courage, and Your supernatural help to pick up my cross and sacrifice everything for Jesus Christ and for the sake of His Holy Catholic Church.
Be guided by the Spirit to battle vice and sin
Realize: While dying for Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice of a disciple (Jn 15:13), every Catholic man can start to sacrifice by making a concrete commitment to confront the proliferation of sin in their lives and take steps to start battling obvious sins (pornography, overeating, excessive media consumption, swearing, etc.).
Believe: Reflect upon The Proliferation of Sin (CCC 1865-1876).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Counsel so I recognize the grave damage of my sins to my immortal soul, repent from my most common sins, and receive Your constant guidance to battle against my most obvious sins.