Cost of Discipleship by Rev. Fr. Eze Osita Alex
All the readings today point to this fact that true discipleship or followership of Christ demands unwavering disposition to defy all odds to stay with Christ. We see Elisha been chosen as Elijah’s replacement as a prophet of Israel since Elijah is about to depart from the scene. One might be quick to question Elisha’s hesitation to accept this task. But this was the time after the prophets of Baal had been slaughtered by Elijah after the conquest on Mount Carmel and Jezebel sought his life which kept Elijah on his heels. Hence Elisha must have considered this before his response but nevertheless, he accepted this task without even considering the very lucrative job that he would now abandon.
Jesus in our Gospel reading resolutely set out to go from Galilee to Jerusalem for the last time. The shortest route for that journey should take one through Samaria, but most Jews avoided this because for centuries Jews and Samaritans were sworn enemies. Jesus had hoped for a warm reception by the Samaritans but got no welcome by anyone. When three persons eventually offered to be his disciples, one would expect that Jesus would receive them with open arms, but he rather seems to have discouraged them. The first man was advised to count the cost before setting out to follow him, as Christ had no fixed abode.
His response to the second man seemed to be quite harsh. Let the spiritually dead bury their dead, the man was told, after asking that he be first allowed to bury his father. The father, however, was likely not yet dead, the custom then being that the eldest son should not leave the family home until after his father’s death. The lesson is that if we are faced with an option, and do not avail of it at once, it is less likely that we will do so later. His message for the third man was uncompromising too. No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is the right kind of person for the kingdom of God. These responses put forward by Jesus calls us to reflect on our own Christian journey of faith; especially in reference to the distractions, we surround ourselves with in this journey.
For some of us, the drive for financial success and gaining material wealth is our own distraction. We get so engrossed in the pursuit of it that we no longer know if there is such a thing as God or a Day of the Lord. For others, we are soaked in fashion that it has now become a god to us to the point that we could forego Church on Sunday simply because our preferred outfit for that day is stuck with the tailor or we could not get them ironed. When asked why they are not ready for church they tell you they don’t have what to wear, whereas they are not naked as at the time they are telling you this. Today, stadiums are preferred destinations than churches just to watch games; we on our part stay glued to our television screens watching football matches or one such movie series at the detriment of our commitments to God as Christians.
My dear people of God, all through our lives, God keeps calling us, whether we respond or not; even as he called Abraham from his homeland, Peter from his nets, Matthew from his tax office, and Elisha from his farm. But, how many of us answer the call wholeheartedly and unreservedly is the question begging for answers. Like Eric in the Chariots of War, are we ready to let go of momentary pleasures and worldly frivolities for the ultimate one that matters most? Are we ready to accept the harsh realities that will befall us in our disposition to follow Christ? We pray that the disposition to follow Christ unreservedly be made ever stronger in us so that we will win the ultimate price that matters most in the end – eternal life, Amen.
Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.