When we buy a new apparatus, we attempt to put it together and if it doesn’t work, we sit down to read the instructions. Sometimes we get it right, but sometimes we get it wrong. The instructions are important.
Jesus gives us instructions on how to be His disciples. Most of us were born into the Catholic Faith, baptized as infants, received the Sacraments of Initiation when we were young. Our Faith has been hit and miss, learn as we go, win some, lose some. What was once a passionate way of living for Jesus Christ in the early Church has become a weekend ritual practice. Being a Christian is more of a label rather than a way of life. Not for everyone, of course, but for countless people throughout the world. The evidence is a preoccupation with death. The fear of death stifles us. Folks do not want to write a Last Will and Testament; buy their burial plot; have someone in charge in case they are incapacitated. We forget to whom we belong and where we are going. Distractions occupy our time, and we fail to focus on the reason for our life—Jesus Christ. He is the only reason that we are here. He is the One who gives us life. Yet, at times we think that we are in control. The temptation is to imagine that we have merited what we have. We speak about “My wife, my husband, my children”. We forget that everything is borrowed. That’s the reason that Jesus used such strong language, “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.” In other words, “Don’t put anyone or anything above me.” Jesus Christ must come first.
Certainly, takes practice. We love our family. We are supposed to love our family. However, at times, even our family can be a distraction to our relationship with the Lord. “I couldn’t come to Mass because my relatives dropped in, and they didn’t want to attend.” “My son is angry with the priest, so now I’m not going to go to church.” “A relative of mine doesn’t like the Pope and convinced me that the Pope is wrong about many things.” What a nice family! Blood is thicker than water. Originally a 12-century proverb in German: Blut ist dicker als Wasser. Means that family is more important than any other relationship. People say, “I’ll do anything for my family. I’ll die for my family. My family is the world to me.” Jesus invites us to make Him the center of our life. He must be more important than anyone, even our family.
Discipleship comes at a high price. Therefore, the Lord directs us to look at ourselves to see if we have the necessary requirements. Do we have what it takes? Are we capable? Jesus outlined two common sense examples: the building of a tower and engaging in battle. Both demand planning, otherwise they will result in disaster. If we are going to build something, we want to see the project finished. If we are going into battle, we want to win. Consider that the building is the Kingdom of God. We cooperate with God’s plan when we spread His Word, when we invite others into the Faith, when we are charitable. The battle is against Satan. The devil attacks us every day, all the time. Yet, he cannot win against God. God is on our side, and we must be on God’s side. There can be no doubt on who’s side we are on. Which means that we do not fight against evil, God fights for us. We can never rely on our own strength, but on the grace of the Holy Spirit. God’s grace is all that we need. The love of God must reign in our heart. The focus is not our unworthiness, but God’s unconditional love for us, despite our weaknesses. The most difficult battles are inside of us. The opposing forces are always present. We need to listen to the voice of truth. The truth is that we are loved, forgiven and redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
If we desire to be a disciple, Jesus Christ will give us what we need. We trust in His love.