Tuesday, November 06, 2012

An All or Nothing Proposition

An All or Nothing Proposition

November 7, 2012

Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.  In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me. 
(Philippians 2:17-18))

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?  (Psalm 27:1)

“Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’”  (Luke 14:28-30) 


O Lord, you are the Light of my life.  You are my salvation.  You are the refuge I seek in times of trouble.  Grant me the grace and courage to show my love for you by following in your Son’s footsteps.  Help me to leave behind whatever distracts me along the way. 


We all know people who are impetuous.  They’re the ones, for example, who rush out and get a puppy without thinking about having to train it, walk it, feed it, pay the vet bills, etc.  That initial enthusiasm burns out when they discover the reality of being a pet owner.  They’re the same ones who take the dog back to the shelter because they didn’t think ahead.  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus warns us not to be like that when it comes to discipleship.  Don’t say we’ll follow him without first taking into consideration the consequences of such a declaration.  In another section of today’s Gospel, Jesus says discipleship is an all or nothing proposition.  Whatever else might demand our loyalty - families, friends, possessions – has to go by the wayside.  Our focus needs to be on the Lord.

So, if this were the starting point in making a friend, being a friend, and then bringing that friend to Christ, it might be a hard sell.  Why would anyone want to give up everything?  On the face of it, it sounds like a rather grim prospect.

A better starting point might be today’s psalm, where the psalmist declares the Lord his light, his salvation, his refuge.  With a God like that, what is there to fear?  This is where discipleship begins, with opening our hearts to the inestimable love God has for us.  God wants to be our light in a world that is often very dark.  God offers us the gift of eternal life with him.  God will be our refuge in times of trouble.  When someone loves us that much, it’s natural to love that person back. 

Look at St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  The apostle writes that even if he loses his life as a martyr for his faith, he is filled with joy.  He has joyfully expended all his energies in life bringing the Christian faith to far flung locales.  He will willingly give his life for the One who stopped him on the road to Damascus, saved him from himself and turned his life around.

Love begets love.  We can love God because God first loves us.  When we truly love the Lord, as Paul did, we have the desire to renounce our earthly attachments to follow him.  It isn’t easy, as we all cling to various things and relationships of this world.  But we will find the rewards far outweigh the cost of discipleship.


As you prayerfully look back over your life, at what points were you especially aware of God’s love for you?  How is your discipleship journey going?  What have you given up along the way in order to more faithfully follow the Lord?  Is there anything else you need to let go of?

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