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The cost of discipleship

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland


Sunday, June 23, 2013
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
Galatians 3:26-29
Luke 9:18-24

Gospel stories about the life of Jesus can be viewed from a variety of perspectives at different times and by different people. Some look at Jesus’ life for answers to “cosmic problems.” Others view the Gospel as a simple narrative relating the steps leading to their own salvation. They remember the Lord who died and rose for them, but sometimes forget that he lived for them too. Some see the story of Jesus’ life in terms of “issues and answers.” All of these are very narrow views of Scripture.

In the Gospel narratives, we read the story of what seems to be a simple Jewish boy born of simple parents, whose friends and relatives expected little else from him but that he should do what other Jewish children did in similar settings. They expected him to be ordinary. But Jesus was different.

He was different, not because of an edict from a rabbi or a pronouncement from an official body or the conferring of a title by the community. He was different because of the mission entrusted to him by the Father. Day by day, as this difference became more apparent, many of those who once called him “friend” began to separate themselves from him.

Jesus was also like us. He did not expect nor did he have the support of the Jewish community as a whole. He knew that there were more people who defamed him privately than would criticize him publicly. He accepted this as part of the cost of his mission. At the same time, he cared about what those nearest to him thought. It was important that they know what they would face because of their allegiance to him. The disciples were called to carry out the mission. It was important that they understood who Jesus was and what it would cost to follow him. Hence, the central question—“Who do you say that I am?”

Many today ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” in specific situations. It is an important question but it is not the question of today’s liturgy. Today we are being asked about the depth of our ongoing commitment to the mission of Christ.

We gather at this Eucharist as followers of Jesus. Who do we say that Jesus is? We have been told the cost of discipleship. In our Eucharistic Prayer, we hear what Jesus has done for us. Are we willing to take up our cross? Are we willing to understand when we are misunderstood? To reach out to the poor and the vulnerable? To put on the mind of Christ? In other words, are we willing to make the mission of Jesus our mission and not count the cost?



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