From the Pastor’s Desk
We have made some decisions in our lives, but today Jesus reminds us that the choice to follow him is the most radical decision we could take in our life. It touches us far more deeply than, for example, the decision to join a political party, emigrate, or get married. Jesus must be more important to us than our family; more important to us even than those we love most in the world; certainly, more important to us than anything we could ever possess. Yes, let us say it boldly and aloud: Jesus is more important to us than our comfort, status, health, and even life itself. And if we don’t realize that, or if we hesitate to affirm it, then we are fools. If we think that we can be true disciples of Jesus, by going to Mass occasionally, saying the odd prayer, maybe even wearing a cross, and making occasional donations to charity ‐ while remaining radically selfish, and easily going along with the norms and patterns of our secular society ‐ then we deceive ourselves, and we have a great need to be jerked out of our spiritual lethargy, and truly converted.
Today’s Gospel gives us the chance to affirm once again, to ourselves, to one another, to the Lord, that yes: we do want to follow Jesus! We do want to be his disciples! For he is the Lord. He died for us and rose again from the dead. He is the Son of God; he is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Life, our Light, our Salvation, our Hope, our Love, our Glory, our Joy. He is not a threat to us, not a harsh tyrant, not a cruel Master. No: Jesus came to heal, to liberate, to lift us up. He offers to take away from us what we want and need to get rid of ‐ to be free from. That is, above all, our sins, and also our worldly attachments. In their place, he offers us what is utterly and ultimately desirable: a share in his own divine Sonship; true holiness; the fullness of eternal life; union with God in heaven.
If we understand this, then we see that the demands spelled out in today’s Gospel are actually consoling, rather than frightening. Because we want Jesus to be not just one feature in our life, taken more or less seriously, but truly our all. We want to belong to him totally; to have his life in us; to be filled with his Spirit; to share his relationship with his Father. And therefore, we want also to die with Jesus to sin, and to self. We want to be perfectly conformed to the one who, although he was rich, became poor for our sake, in order that we might become rich through his poverty (2 Cor 8:9).
Peace, Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
Pastor, Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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