Monday, January 25, 2010

The Cost of Discipleship 1-25-10

Crucifix at Jesus the Divine Word Parish
Huntingtown, MD

Yesterday recalling St Paul's conversion was an invitation to all of us to live out the Christian life. Today's celebration of two early Bishops of our Church, in very dangerous times, is an invitation to us to consider what the cost of discipleship is for us in the 21st Century. As Paul writes to Timothy, being a Christian will result in persecution. While persecution today may not be a threatening to one's life as it was in the earlier years of our Church, it remains a promise to us today but in different forms, in different experiences. That we Catholics are called to believe that we willingly endure the challenges our faith brings us because these moment genuinely bring us closer to the man on the cross. Paul calls these moments of challenge "hardship for the Gospel." Sharing the "persecutions" that come upon us in our times in a genuine linking us to all those who have accepted the faith and endure often-times painful consequences for saying "I believe in Jesus Christ!"

Today's "hardships for the faith" are true challenges to us to lessen or even abandon our faith. In our contemporary culture, followers of Jesus Christ throughout the world are called upon to speak out for moral and ethical values. In certain instances simply trying to live out the Ten Commandments is a cause of ridicule and torture. Speaking out for the issues that touch the very core of our shared humanity is not easy when the very value of human life is diminished. At times family member might turn away from you, someone you thought was a true friend backs away, co-workers tend to avoid conversations -- all because you stood tall when your faith was challenged.

In just a couple of weeks we enter into one of the richest seasons of our Church's calendar: Ash Wednesday, February 17th. Perhaps the invitation embedded in Paul's words to Timothy -- and each of us -- might well serve as a foundation to determining what sacrifice you can practice that will bring to you a sense of personal growth and spiritual strengthening ... especially in joining your sacrifice to that of those who have suffered much more than many of us will ever be called upon to make in our lives.