Homily of September 16, 2018, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
The cost of following Jesus
Most of us follow Jesus without even knowing who he is. Jesus therefore reveals himself to us today. There is a movement from a more general question ‘Who do people say I am?’ to something more particular: ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ To this question the disciples through the intervention of Peter recognised Jesus as THE CHRIST! Unfortunately they had a dream of a Messiah who would restore the kingdom of David by military might, casting out the Roman oppressors. Jesus however brings them to understand the Messiah as a suffering Son of Man who would be rejected and killed and then rise.
Following of Jesus Christ is serious business. We may have proclaimed a message of faith like Peter who recognises that Jesus is the Christ. When Jesus says he is going to suffer and be killed and then rise from the dead, Peter says NOW WAY! Following Christ then is not just a matter of knowing the beliefs of the faith. Christ is calling us to more than this. He is calling us to be completely sold on His Kingdom. He is calling us to put Him before everything else in the world. That means being mocked because we take our faith seriously. That means being hurt because we refuse to join a crowd that is more pagan than Christian. That means being spat on, and hit in the face, and even dying for the sake of Jesus Christ.
There are people in your neighborhood, at your work, in your schools, who mock you for your beliefs. There are people who boast that they are good, but who are furious with you when you say that you are not going to get drunk, take drugs or do that which belongs only within the commitment of marriage.
Following Jesus is always going to have a cost to it. That is because good is always going to be opposed by evil. To make matters worse, evil may appear to be the norm, the manner of living of a majority. It is just the minority who do that which is wrong but who try to convince others that their actions are what everybody is doing. Still, the vocal minority can wear on us. That coupled with our constant need to control ourselves, can lead us away from truth in the black hole of sin.
It takes courage to be a Christian, a real Christian. It takes courage to be a Catholic, a true Catholic, one who is not going to compromise on the Truth that is Jesus Christ. It takes courage to sell out for the Lord. It takes courage to live the Lord’s words in today’s gospel” “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” If we are not ready to embrace suffering, which Christ are we following? But He did promise us this: if we follow Him, He would be with us, supporting us, caring for us, and winning the final battle over evil for us.
Father Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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