In the Gospel, there were many people who followed Jesus for many different reasons. The sick followed him with the hope of being healed. The poor followed Jesus with the hope that he would satisfy their hunger and quench their thirst. Generally, the people came after Jesus because of the momentarily actual profits they could get.
Knowing that people followed him blindly and without thinking, Jesus gave a blunt warning to those who truly wished to be his disciples. In that warning, there are three uncompromising demands.
Firstly, Jesus said: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother,… and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” In fact, we all should always respect and honour our parents, and that is the Fourth Commandment of the Lord. However, Jesus asks that we should not let ourselves be hindered by family ties, to give ourselves completely to bringing the Good News to all nations.
Next, Jesus said: if they were not able to carry their cross and come after him, they could not be his disciples. The cross that Jesus mentioned here was not made of any worldly material. But, it is daily life’s sufferings and adversities. When facing such problems, are we willing to accept it, to make the best out of it, and to seek God’s will? Or do we just sit still, whining about life, and complaining about God?
And thirdly, Jesus said: “Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Here, Jesus is asking us to live our lives with the simplest conditions. He calls us to let go of worldly attachments, and learn to rely on God’s providence, totally trust in him and completely depend on him.
May we always make efforts to put God above all else, our family ties, worldly possessions and even our dreams. It is a practical way for us to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Fr Tang Phan