By Fr. Thiago, sx –
On his way to Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus addresses the crowds (not only his apostles, but all those who were following him) a very strong message about discipleship: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Apparently, Jesus´ words appear hard and excessive. Nevertheless, placing them in their context we understand the real meaning of Jesus´ words, of Jesus´ message.
Jesus is not nourishing a behavior of hatred or hostility, but he is telling us that to follow him is a commitment; is something serious. Through the images of the construction of a tower and of a battle, the Lord Jesus reinforces this message. He doesn´t play with our feelings, neither he exploits our enthusiasm our weaknesses. Jesus doesn´t deceive us, but what he asks of us is a choice free and mature, a choice of love.
In this Sunday´s Gospel, Jesus is inviting us to be his disciples not by name or by “label”, but in truth and in the heart, as pope Francis reminded us a few weeks ago during the prayer of the Angelus. The danger of being disciples part-time is always knocking at the door of our existence. Jesus instead, invites us to carry our cross after him every day. We often think of the cross as a metaphor of our sufferings and problems, but in the Gospel the cross is the synthesis of Jesus´ life – a life of love and service. Therefore, this is the path for the disciple to walk – loving and serving as Jesus did. In this way we will find true joy; in this way our joy will be complete.
From the writings of Saint Guido
“I don´t come now to ask for your donation. I come to propose you something much greater… I come in the name of God, to ask the sacrifice of your young days, your talent, your energy, and your more legitimate and dear affection. It is a great sacrifice what I propose, but I ask this in the name of Him who first of all gave all of himself to us and has promised to recognize as his brothers those who will make this the will of His Father.”
(Letter to the young people of the diocese of Parma – 1925)