A definitive choice for discipleship
by Janine Aqui
Jesus’ words in the gospel are heavy in meaning; His message is clear, though requiring much contemplation for each of us to understand how it relates to our way of living.
The wisdom and timelessness of His words are such that the meaning we each garner is deeply personal, relevant and instructive. I am always in awe that the same words we all hear could be internalised with unique meaning. God speaks directly to each of our hearts.
The word ‘hate’ is a harsh word of negative emotions, which seems so very counterintuitive to God’s eternal message of love for each other. When Jesus states “If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26), it is jarring, and quite disconcerting.
On the surface, it could be distressing to think that we must hate to become one of God’s disciples. What a paradox! My interpretation is that, if the ones whom we are closest to, are those who lead us further away from God, we need to make a choice.
If our current lifestyle is one which leads us away from what is right in the eyes of God, we need to make a choice. If our wish is to become a disciple of God, we need to make a definitive choice.
The choice is bearing our cross. “Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:27). To bear our cross is to accept where God has placed us.
God’s infinite wisdom is truly unfathomable for human thinking, and we cannot begin to comprehend what lies ahead for each of us. To go after Jesus, could only mean to follow His way, to know His truth, and to live His life.
It means foregoing our will and yielding to the holy will of God. We do this because we have faith in God, we trust Him, and because we know He loves us.
There have been numerous times when I was faced with bewildering and hopeless situations which filled me with angst and paralysis. From the moment I surrender, and pray to God, “Lord, lead me, and I will follow”, the situation is always resolved in unexpected and inexplicable ways, which would have been impossible had I continued worrying in faithless disposition.
Jesus continues His message to us about ‘building a tower’, and in ‘marching to war’ against an opponent. What does this mean and how does this relate to anything?
Building anything costs something—time, talent and treasure. To build a relationship with God, costs us. How much are we willing to spend, to build the most important relationship we will ever have? A relationship which sustains life, which guarantees life eternal, and which is based solely on heavenly love?
Are we spending enough time in prayer, and at Holy Mass? Are we using our talents to uplift others, and to accompany others on their journey? Are we spending our treasure for the common good of our community, and our Church?
When faced with an opponent stronger than ourselves, greater in numbers and more powerful, we could either sacrifice ourselves in battle or negotiate for peace. We would be mad to think that waging war with God is wise, and similarly when we leave God out of our plans, expecting an optimal outcome.
I have learnt to place God first, include Him in everything, and depend entirely on Him. Why? After too many times of ‘bouncing my head’, I could state with all certainty that God’s mighty hand makes all things possible! Therefore, allowing Him to lead, and faithfully following Him is the surest way to reach the destination God has determined for each of us.
Discipleship is not an easy path, and we make the route tougher when we assume that we know more than God, or we do not need God. In fact, God gives us the freedom to discover our limitations, which, when truthfully assessed, would steer us toward trusting in Him completely.
Discipleship is taxing but rewarding; it is dangerous but life-giving; and it is losing ourselves but finding God.
The gospel reflections for September are by Janine Aqui, parishioner of St Ann’s RC Church, St Ann’s Parish, and Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Toco-Matelot Parish. She is foremost a proud Catholic, working daily to become the best version of herself.