The Cost of Discipleship
The call to follow Jesus is always a grace and a privilege. Often in the scriptures we hear that challenging invitation to permanently remain with the Lord because He remains with us. We are called to walk with Him, to listen to Him and to always allow His teaching and His words to form the way we think, the way we feel and act – we are called to discipleship. Following Jesus means allowing Him to change every aspect of our lives, so that, we more clearly reflect His way of living in all that we do. This invitation to follow Jesus requires total commitment. We see a fine example of commitment in the first reading; when Elijah came to call Elisha to succeed him as prophet, Elisha was out doing his daily business, but once he was called, he left everything and followed Elijah.
Elisha’s response was absolute. He slaughtered the oxen and burned the plough. That meant that there could be no possibility of returning to his old way of life. Turning back was no longer an option. From that moment Elisha committed himself totally to his new calling. We have even better example of commitment in the Gospel reading. Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. That decision calls for great courage and commitment, because he knew that rejection, betrayal and even death awaited him there. But his Father had given him the task of bringing salvation to his brothers and sisters. He would not opt out now. Thus he has given an example to his followers of the kind of dedication that is required of a true disciple. This explains the reason for his response to the men he met on his way.
To the man who opted to follow him he responded: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Jesus uses metaphor to explain that to truly follow him one must be ready to leave the comforts of home. This challenges me to pray about times I cling to the comforts of home or friends rather than push myself in following Jesus. Jesus is not asking me to literally abandon my home but rather to live my faith. The times I extend out of my comfort zone are the times I can most fully experience and share God’s love.
Along his journey Jesus also invited another person to follow him. However, the individual asks if he can first stay and bury the dead. Jesus responded: “Let the dead bury their dead.” In Jesus’ challenge to the invited follower I hear there is always something I could be doing which can get in the way of my following Jesus. Life’s day to day responsibilities can pile up, providing a profound distraction. Jesus invites me to pray about what is getting in the way of my being a follower. What distracts me from living my faith? How can I support others who get bogged down in their desires to “bury the dead?”
Today, we live in the age of ‘drop-out’. The Lord still calls people today, and there are still those who respond. We are all called in different ways to be Christians where we are and in our different professions. What does the call to follow Christ meant to each of us?
Fr Odinaka Nwadike