Take your cross and follow me

Do we truly know the cost of following Jesus as His disciples? Are we willing to pay this cost? Some of us will say quickly "of course" without taking the cost into account. Others, after having given our "yes" repent and opt for leaving the way because it was not what we expected. I have news for all, Jesus had warned us from the beginning that following him would not be easy. I am not trying to scare you so as not to take the way to which all those baptized into the faith were called. Even if it is difficult, I assure you that the fruits make all our sacrifices worthwhile.

The decision to be a disciple of Jesus should not be taken too lightly. It is necessary to measure the personal cost and what it means to others. In the Gospel of Sept. 4 (Lk 14, 25-33), Jesus gives us that warning. Large crowds were following him and he turned and addressed his disciples (I imagine the crowd also heard what he said), saying: "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sits down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? (LK 14,27-28). Likewise, Jesus asks of us to ponder well the "cross" we have to bear and to prepare to carry that burden.

When we feel the call to discipleship we should take into account that our crosses (sacrifices) are unique and personal, made for each one of us. Our faith experience depends on our life experience. None is like that of others. They are called "sacrifices" because they should be felt in the depths of our being so that we remember the sacrifice made by Christ to save us. It is important to assess the weight of our cross occasionally because as we get used to its weight, sometimes we tend to remain there because we think we cannot bear more. When that moment arises we need to remember that Jesus continued to accept more and more until the end. When our crosses do not weigh anymore then they are not sacrifices any longer.

Let us ask ourselves: What am I willing to sacrifice to become a disciple of Jesus? How my decisions will affect others? Let us remember that our crosses are ours to carry. When we decide to accept the call we should always keep in mind the example set by Jesus who gives us the strength to remain on the way. When my child was in second grade he told me that his classmates in music class always complained because they had to remain standing when practicing the songs. Then he said that they should take into account that the sister who taught them had to remain on her feet almost the whole day. I asked him how he felt. He answered: "Mom, I get tired, too, but I do not complain because I know Jesus suffered more and I offer my tiredness to him."

Johnston is intercultural program specialist for diocesan Pastoral Services’ Office of Cultural Diversity.

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