AD SENSE

13 Sunday C - Radicality of Discipleship

Fr. Jude Botelho:

The first reading is from the first book of Kings and tells us of the calling of the prophet Elisha. The prophet Elijah was asked to anoint Elisha to succeed him. As Elijah comes across Elisha ploughing his field, he passes his mantle on to Elisha who is ready to follow him but wishes first to bid his parents goodbye and asks permission to do so. Elijah appears to respond harshly. “What have I done to you? Go back.” Elisha gets the message. Nothing should come in the way of answering God’s call and leaving all behind he follows Elijah and becomes his servant. We cannot set any terms and conditions in following God.
Are you a Jesus fan or follower?
A group of Christians were holding a Prayer Meeting in Russia, when such a thing was forbidden. Suddenly the door was broken down by the boot of a soldier, who came into the room, faced the group, with a machine gun in hand, and asked “If there’s any one of you who doesn’t really believe in Jesus, then get out now, while you have a chance.” There was a rush for the door. The soldier then closed the door, and stood in front of the remainder of the group, with machine gun in hand. He looked around the room, as the people were beginning to think that their end had come. Then he smiled, and said ‘Actually, I believe in Jesus too, and you’re better off without those others!’
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel truth’

In today’s gospel Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He knows that this is the journey that will take him to his suffering and death. He also knew that this is the way that would lead to life, which is why he dares others to follow him. He said to his disciples, “If any one wishes to be my disciple he must take up his cross and follow me.” There is a cost to discipleship. One has to be ready to let go of everything that is dear to follow the master. His followers are then to abandon any seeming security, to prefer nothing to the work for the life of the kingdom. They are to journey onward with resolution, not looking back at what they have left behind. Do we follow him on our terms? “I will follow you but first let me finish what I am doing at the moment.” “Lord, I will follow you but I have to take care of my other commitments and personal needs!” “Lord I want to follow you but my family needs me at the moment. I’ll come as soon as I’m free!” We may feel we have good and valid reasons for not following the Lord now, but nothing is good enough; there is only one way, and we have to make our choice for or against him.

The price of World-class Status
Some years ago in an issue of Sports Illustrated, there was an article on Bela Karolyi, a Romanian coach. He was once the coach of the national Romanian team that produced the World Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci. In 1981 Bela Karolyi defected to the United States with a suitcase, leaving everything else behind including his Mercedes. A few years later he was training more than 300 youth at his Sundance Athletic Club at Houston. To attain world class status in gymnastics the way Nadia did, an athlete must become a disciple of a master like Bela Karolyi. First, she must sacrifice her own comfort and follow a strenuous training programme. Second, she must re-order her priorities, attach supreme importance to gymnastics and subordinate everything else to it. Third, she must make a single-minded commitment to persevere in spite of difficulties and disappointments. The same three elements of discipleship are required of followers in today’s gospel: letting go of everything, re-order priorities and single-mindedness.
Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’

Two ways of life…
I know a ranch in Colorado at the base of a mountain. From snowfields hundreds of feet above, two streams trickle down and divide. One grows until its waters are caught up by skilled engineers and made to irrigate a thousand ranches. The other runs into a blind valley and spreads into a lake with no outlet. There it poisons itself. In it are the carcasses of cattle who, thirsty and eager, have come to drink of the tainted flood. Some of them still stand upright in the miry bottom, their heads bent into the bitter tide, the flesh falling from their bones. The first lake has an outlet. It loses itself on a mesa and gives drink to the homes of men. The other turns in upon itself and kills everything that touches it. One loses life and finds it again in generosity -the other loses life in stagnation, never to find it again.
George Stewart

Our commitment to Him
In 1982 the same year the film Chariots of Fire won the Academy Award, an article appeared in the Reader’s Digest. It was about a Catholic advertising executive. In spite of her successful career, she felt emptiness in her life. One morning, during a breakfast meeting with her marketing consultant, she mentioned that emptiness. “Do you want to fill it?” her colleague asked. “Of course I do,” She said. He looked at her and replied, “Then start each day with an hour of prayer.” She looked at him and said, “Don, you’ve got to be kidding. If I tried that I’d go off my rocker.” Her friend smiled and said “That’s exactly what I said 20 years ago.” Then he said something else that really made her think. He said, “You’re trying to fit God into your life. Instead, you should be trying to fit your life around God.” The woman left the restaurant in turmoil. Begin each morning with prayer? Begin each morning with an hour of prayer? Absolutely out of the question! Yet, the next morning the woman found herself doing exactly that. And she’s been doing it ever since. The woman is the first to admit that it has not always been easy. There have
been mornings when she was filled with great peace and joy. But there have been other mornings when she was filled with nothing but weariness. And it was on these weary mornings that she remembered something else that her marketing consultant said: “There will be times when your mind just won’t go into God’s sanctuary. That’s when you spend your hour in God’s waiting room. Still, you’re there, and God appreciates your struggle to stay there. What’s important is the commitment.”
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’

Don’t keep God waiting!
A few years ago I asked a tradesman to do a job for me, and he promised that he would be along the very next day. When he failed to show, I phoned him again, and once again, he said he definitely would be with me on the following morning. I let a few days go by, before I got another tradesman to do the job. A few days later my friend arrived all ready to go. He got a bit of a shock to learn that the job was completed, and he had missed the opportunity of some business. In today’s gospel Jesus is telling us that he has no intention of hanging around, waiting on others to make up their mind…
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel truth’

*****

Stories from Fr. Tony Kadavil’s Collection:

1: The Cost of Discipleship: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran theologian, wrote a series of reflections on the Sermon on the Mount entitled, The Cost of Discipleship, in which he maintained that discipleship requires that we make a fundamental decision to follow Jesus and to accept the consequences of that decision. His own religious convictions led him to stand up to the tyranny of Nazi Germany and to participate in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The plot was uncovered, Bonhoeffer was apprehended, and the ultimate “cost” of discipleship was exacted of him: he was hanged by the Nazis on April 9, 1945. While discipleship might force some people to decide between life and death, few of us will be asked to pay that ultimate price. But today’s Gospel challenges us to live in a certain way, imitating the prophetic vocation of Jesus (Dianne Bergant, C. S. A.).


 2: The price of World-class Status: Some years ago, in an issue of Sports Illustrated, there was an article on Bela Karolyi, a Romanian coach. He was once the coach of the national Romanian team that produced the World Olympic champion gymnast Nadia Comaneci (https://youtu.be/Yi_5xbd5xdE). In 1981 Bela Karolyi defected to the United States with a suitcase, leaving everything else behind including his Mercedes. A few years later he was training more than 300 young people at his Sundance Athletic Club in Houston, Texas. To attain world class status in gymnastics the way Nadia did, an athlete must become a disciple of a master like Bela Karolyi. First, she must sacrifice her own comfort and follow a strenuous training program. Second, she must re-order her priorities, attach supreme importance to gymnastics and subordinate everything else to it. Third, she must make a single-minded commitment to persevere in spite of difficulties and disappointments. The same three elements of discipleship are required of followers in today’s Gospel: letting go of everything, re-ordering priorities and being single-minded. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

3: Commitment of Mormon missionaries: Many of us have seen Mormon missionaries riding their bicycles, wearing dark pants, white shirts and ties. Let me tell you more about their lifestyle. They do not see their families during the two years of their mission service. They are allowed to call home only on Christmas and Mother’s Day. Their day begins at 6:30 AM with an hour of Bible study and prayer. Then they work until 9:30 PM. They have about an hour to do laundry and study Scripture before lights out. This is their schedule six days per week. No TV or movies or dates for two years. We have seen young men with multi-million dollars pro-basketball contracts put all that on hold until they fulfill their mission obligation. Although I have some serious and fundamental theological differences with the Mormons, I can’t deny the commitment of their young missionaries. Perhaps that commitment is a key reason why their numbers are growing so rapidly in the United States. Today’s readings are about God’s call and the commitment expected from us to answer that call.
4: On Christian tolerance: The best commentary on the first part of today’s Gospel is a story about Abraham Lincoln, who was the finest and most spiritual of all the American presidents. During the Civil War, Lincoln was often criticized for not being severe enough on the soldiers of the South.  On one occasion after a battle, a general from the North asked him, “Why didn’t you destroy the enemy when you had the chance? President Lincoln answered with words adapted from the today’s Gospel passage: “Do I not destroy my enemy by making him my friend?” That is exactly what Jesus tells   us in today’s Gospel: destroy our enemies by making them our friends. No doubt the feelings of anger and resentment run deep in many hearts today, and we wouldn’t mind if people who hurt us deeply were punished or suffered from bad luck. Jesus, however, says: “That is not my Spirit — let Me heal your heart.”
5. Shortly after his election as pope, St. John XXIII was walking in the streets of Rome when a woman passed him and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Overhearing her remark, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”) 
6. Committed to the spouse or to the Super Bowl? A young man was very excited because he just won a ticket to the Super Bowl. His excitement lessened as he realized his seat was in the back of the stadium. As he searched the rows ahead of him for a better seat, he saw an empty one right next to the field. He approached the man sitting next to the empty seat and asked if it was taken. The man replied, “No.” Amazed the young man asked, “How could someone pass up a seat like this?” The older gentleman responded, “That’s my wife’s seat. We’ve been to every Super Bowl together since the day we were married but she has passed away.” “Oh, how sad,” the man said. “I’m sorry to hear that, but couldn’t you find a friend or relative to come with you?” “No,” the man said, “They’re all at the funeral.”
21 Additional anecdotes
1): The commitment of a star-maker: Bill Haber, a famous movie producer, was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood.   For thirty years, his life consisted of making and breaking the careers of movie stars, and he did his job well. In 1995, when his two partners at Creative Artists Agency left him in order to run their own studios, Bill started a nonprofit organization called Save the Children, where he now supervises forty thousand employees in forty-one countries. He left behind the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for the day-in day-out realities of starving kids. Why would he make such a move? Simple, he says. “You only live once, and I felt God calling me to work with children.” He realized that wealth and power aren’t everything, and when confronted with the chance to make a lasting difference in people’s lives, he simply said, “I couldn’t afford to let the opportunity pass.”  Amazingly, Bill Haber says that nobody in Hollywood ever thought he was crazy for doing what he did. In fact, several have said to him, “I wish I could do that.” The truth is that anyone at any time can do what Bill Haber did. In today’s Gospel Jesus gives us an invitation to abandon the building of our own individual kingdoms, and to join with him in building his eternal Kingdom, right here and right now, with total commitment.
2: Commitment of martyrs: In the early days of the Church, countless people lost their lives as martyrs for Christ. Rather than weakening the Christian community, however, the stories of these suffering believers drew multitudes of people to the faith. One of these early martyrs was a young mother named Vibia Perpetua. Perpetua, a native of North Africa, was just twenty years old when she was imprisoned for giving her life to Christ. Fortunately, Perpetua was imprisoned with five other Christians. This small band of believers continued to worship God and uplift one another throughout this ordeal. They all remained strong in their faith, confident that they were doing God’s will. The day before they were executed, this tiny band of Christians gathered together and had an agápe meal, an honored tradition in the early Church. Then, each of the believers was thrown in the arena with a wild animal. Most of the believers were gored to death, but the crowd protested at the sight of Perpetua’s body covered in bloody wounds, so she was removed from the arena and beheaded by a soldier. Somehow, they thought this was more humane than death at the mercy of an animal. We may think the story of Perpetua had a tragic, senseless ending, but it was examples of a steadfast faith like Perpetua’s that inspired generations of believers after her. [Edith Deen, Great Women of the Christian Faith (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), 37.]
3) The movie Amazing Grace on William Wilberforce : In 2006 a movie came out called Amazing Grace. It was the story of William Wilberforce, who is credited with being primarily responsible for the 23 February 1807 vote in England to abolish the slave trade. The vote was 283-16. But that vote doesn’t tell the story. Wilberforce spent 20 years pushing abolition. Few people in history were as stubborn as Wilberforce, and few people in history were as criticized as Wilberforce. In the 1790s he was slandered in the press, physically assaulted, subjected to numerous death threats and once challenged to a duel. During certain periods he had to travel with a bodyguard. His spirit was almost broken many times. He suffered a nervous breakdown. But in spite of all the dirt thrown at Wilberforce, he kept stomping and moving. He handled criticism, not by turning back and engaging his critics, but by kicking down the dirt and moving on toward his goal. He set his face toward the abolition of slavery, and he didn’t look back. Wilberforce feared God more than he feared his critics. It kept him committed his goal of banishing slavery and liberating slaves in England. In today’s Gospel Jesus wants such commitment from his disciples.
4) “No reserves, no retreats, no regrets.” Here is a story about commitment. In 1904, William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy estate, graduated from a Chicago high school as a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia and the Middle East, Borden was given by God a burden for the world’s suffering people. Writing home, he said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” When he made that decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: “No reserves.” After graduating from Yale, he turned down numerous high-paying jobs and headed to the seminary. At that time, he entered two more words in his Bible: “No retreats.” After completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China. On the way he stopped in Egypt for some additional training. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. Perhaps you are thinking what a waste! William Borden didn’t think so. Shortly before he died, he entered two more words in his Bible. Now the statement read: “No reserves, no retreats, no regrets.” Success for a Christian is to be able to say at the end of the line, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; and I have kept the Faith.”
5) The cost of discipleship: Albert Einstein, the German-born mathematician, slowly watched his homeland give in to Adolf Hitler’s Fascist dictatorship. Einstein wondered if any were going to stand up and oppose Hitler. He said, and I quote, “When Hitlerism came to Germany, I expected the Universities to oppose it. Instead they embraced it. I hoped for the press to denounce it, but instead they propagated its teachings. One by one the leaders and institutions which should have opposed the Nazi philosophy bowed meekly to its authority. Only one institution met it with vigorous opposition and that was the Christian Church.” Einstein confessed, “That which I once despised, I now love with a passion I cannot describe.” The commitment of the Church in standing against evil made a profound impression upon Einstein. Those individuals in the 1930’s understood the cost associated with their actions, and they did not back down. The Church today is challenged by Jesus to do the same in today’s Gospel.
6) A Methodist anecdote on ploughman not looking back: John Wesley, the great founder of the Methodist church wrote in his diary: Sunday a.m. May 5 – Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday p.m. May 5 – Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said get out and stay out. Sunday a.m. May 12 – Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there either. Sunday a.m. May 19 – Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called a special meeting and said I couldn’t return. Sunday p.m. – Preached on street. Kicked off the street. Sunday a.m. – Preached in meadow. Chased out of the meadow as bull was turned loose during service. Sunday a.m. – Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off highway. Sunday p.m. – June afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me. (Rev. Leonard Sweet).
7) Commitment to one’s swearing in the court:  “I know you’ve been sworn in, and I’ve read your complaint.” So, begins Judge Wapner as another case unfolds on the popular television series, People’s Court. The Judge’s repetition of the phrase before each case implies that the litigants have already placed their hands on the Bible and sworn to tell nothing “but the truth.” However, courtroom cases do not progress far until it becomes apparent that either the plaintiff or the defendant is lying. Immediately, the whole matter of swearing-in comes into question. What good did it really do if one, or both parties involved knew from the beginning that they would not hesitate to bend the facts around to fit their own purposes? Beneath the long look, it appears that the swearing-in has become nothing more than a formality to be hurdled in order to get on with the business at hand. Committing oneself to tell the truth, committing a meeting to the fulfillment of God’s will, or committing one’s behavior to the glory of God; all of these are noble and highly commendable. However, if all we are committed to is the formality of making the commitment, we are, as someone expressed it, “a bluster, a bluff, an empty show.”
8) Excuse-filled society: One of the most respected authors in America made this observation: Our culture has declared war on guilt…Perhaps the most prevalent means of escaping blame is by classifying every human failing as some kind of disease. Drunkards and drug addicts can check into clinics for treatment of their “chemical dependencies.” Children who habitually defy authority can escape condemnation by being labeled “hyper-active” or having ADD (Attention Deficiency Disorder). Gluttons are no longer blame-worthy; they suffer from an “eating disorder.” Even the man who throws away his family’s livelihood to pay for prostitutes is supposed to be an object of compassionate understanding; he is “addicted to sex” (John MacArthur, The Vanishing Conscience, p. 23). Today’s Gospel, while describing Jesus’ call to discipleship explains how he handles lame excuses.
9) “An excuse is just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” (Billy Sunday): The Toronto News published a listing of actual accident reports filed by those involved in accidents. 1) “Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.” 2) “A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.” 3) “The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.” 4) “In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.” 5) “I told the police I was not injured, but on removing my hat I found that I had a fractured skull.” 6) “The pedestrian had no idea which direction to run, so I ran over him.” 7) “The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth” (Great Stories, April/June, 1994). Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus’ call to follow him met with such excuses.
10) Fix your priorities in life: They were 5,000 feet in the air in a two-seater Cessna when suddenly the pilot slumped over. It happened not so long-ago near Mount Hope, Indiana, to an 81-year-old passenger who was flying to Indianapolis for lunch. When his 52-year-old friend and pilot unexpectedly died, the elder passenger realized he knew nothing about flying and a lot less about landing! In the next twenty minutes you can bet he gave his total attention to the voices on the radio and the instructions given to him. Another pilot nearby coached him and gave him a “crash course” (pardon the pun) in flying a two-seat Cessna and most importantly in landing. He circled the airport three times and came in, bounced a few times, and landed in a soggy field. Incredibly, there was no damage except a bent propeller. If this happened to you or to me today, our number one priority would be determined very, very quickly! The main thing and the only thing would be to land that Cessna and not crash! Stephen Covey in his book, First Things First, a New York Times best seller for several years, says the issue for life is just that – first things first.
11) Cost of discipleship for Paul: Paul sounds like Jesus. He knew following Jesus meant danger on all sides: “Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys; in danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the Churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
12) It’s about living joyfully and freely in the present. September 1944–a U.S. bomber plane flying over the Pacific is hit by enemy fire. The three airmen on board must make a hasty parachute jump to safety. Only one of the three survives the terrifying ordeal. This lone survivor, George H. Bush, would later distinguish himself in business and in politics, and would go on to become our country’s 41st President. He is also the father, of course, of another President, George W. Bush. Yet 53 years after that terrible bail-out over the Pacific, former President George H. Bush decided that he needed to tackle that parachute jump again. According to a story in Life magazine, he wasn’t looking for glory or publicity; he simply wanted to face the awful memories and emotions associated with this wartime incident. So, at the age of 72, George H. Bush hired a plane to fly him out over the Arizona desert, where he made a successful jump. Now, after all those years, he could put that part of his past to rest. Sometimes you need to do something just about that radical to get rid of painful memories that are interfering with present happiness. Of course, that is what our Faith is about. It’s not about life in the past. It’s about living joyfully and freely in the present. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” [Life, (May 1997), p. 25.]
13) Commitment in marriage: One of the most popular songs in weddings today is Steven Curtis Chapman’s I Will Be Here.” The song is a simple declaration by Chapman that no matter what their marriage goes through, he will be there for his wife. Sadly, Chapman was inspired to write this song for his wife after he learned that his own parents were divorcing. As Chapman says, “Seeing the pain of my parents’ divorce caused Mary Beth and me to ask ourselves how we could prevent this in our marriage. We spent many hours together in prayer and through that process came to understand that to love and forgive unconditionally on a daily basis is the only way a marriage can last” [“Play It Again, Sam” by Joan Brasher, Aspire (June/July 1997), p. 34].
“Tomorrow mornin’
If you wake up
And the sun
Does not appear
I, I will be here
If in the dark
We lose sight of love
Hold my hand
And have no fear
‘Cause I, I will be here” (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/stevencurtischapman/iwillbehere.html)

14) “The Lord guides me.” Catherine Swift in her biography of Eric Liddell describes the faith-commitment of England’s fastest runner of 1924 and the gold medalist of 400-meter final at the Paris Olympics. On April 6, 1923, in a small-town hall in Armadale, Scotland, Eric Liddell spoke for the first time of his faith in Christ and of the strength he felt within himself from the sure knowledge of God’s love and support. News of Liddell’s talk was reported in every newspaper in Scotland the next morning. When asked how he knew where the finish line was located, he replied in his deliberate Scottish brogue, “The Lord guides me.” As word of his Faith in Christ spread through England, many wondered if he would display the same zeal on the track. Liddell silenced all skeptics in the AAA Championships in London in July 1923, by winning the 220-yard dash and the 100-yard dash. His time in the 100 stood as England’s best for thirty-five years. But he stunned his British sports fans by refusing to participate in the Paris Olympic heats for the 100 meters as the officials fixed it on a Sunday. He considered Sunday to be sacred, a day set apart for the Lord, and he would honor his convictions at the expense of fame. He was replaced by his teammate. But three days later, he finished third in the 200-meter sprint, taking an unexpected bronze medal and his substitute won the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters. Eric volunteered to run the 400 meters and surprised the world by winning an Olympic gold medal for England. Liddell ran to victory, five meters ahead of the silver medalist. “The Flying Scotsman” had a gold medal and a world record, 47.6 seconds. Most of all, Eric Liddell had kept his commitment to his convictions of Faith. After a few years Eric surprised the world once again by becoming an ordained missionary in China where he served as a zealous missionary for 13 years. Shortly after his forty-third birthday in January 1945 he died of a brain tumor. Eric Liddell ran, spoke, and lived with great faithfulness and solid commitment to Christ as demanded by Jesus in today’s Gospel. The movie, Chariots of Fire, chronicles his Faith, influencing yet another generation for Jesus Christ. (http://ww2.intouch.org/site/c.dhKHIXPKIuE/b.2704335/k.CF1A/Life_Center_Principles__Life_Examples__Eric_Liddell.htm)

15) The cost of discipleship: The Indian Epics narrate many amazing stories about the dedication of the disciples to their masters. The story of Ekalavya in Mahabharata is such an amazing one. Ekalavya is introduced as a young prince. He lived near the ashram of Drona, where Pandavas princes and Kaurava princes used to take lessons in various arts. He had great desire to learn the art of archery from Dronacharya. But Drona would not accept him as his disciple. But the boy was not to be put off; his determination knew no bounds. Ekalavya went off into the forest where he fashioned a clay statue of Drona. Worshipping the statue as his preceptor, he began a disciplined program of self-study. As a result, Ekalavya became an archer of exceptional prowess. One day while Ekalavya was practicing, he heard a dog barking. Ekalavya fired seven arrows in rapid succession to fill the dog’s mouth without injuring it. The Princes were surprised. They asked him who his master was. He replied that His “Guru” was Dronacharya. When Drona heard of it he went to see his unknown disciple. He found Ekalavya diligently practicing archery. Seeing Drona, Ekalavya prostrated himself and clasped the teacher’s hands, awaiting his order. Drona asked Ekalavya for his Gurudakshina, the deed of gratitude a student owed his teacher upon the completion of his training. Ekalavya replied that there was nothing he would not give his teacher. Drona said, “Give me your right thumb.” Without hesitation he cut off his right thumb and handed it to Drona. Today’s readings speak to us about the cost of discipleship. (Fr. Bobby)
16) Lech Walesa’s single-minded commitment: As is well known, not to retaliate in the face of provocation demands great courage and strength. Such was the moral courage and superhuman strength demonstrated by Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarity Movement in Poland. Solidarity was a non-violent movement formed among the shipyard workers of Gdansk in Poland during the Communist era. As Walesa put it, “The Solidarity Movement was successful because at every point it fought for whatever solution was the most humane, the most worthy, and for whatever was an alternative to brutality and hatred. When it needed to be, it was also a movement that was persistent, obstinate and unyielding. And that is why we eventually succeeded.” A similar sentiment was earlier eloquently expressed by the eminent Sir Winston Churchill, “In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill.” To the suggestion of James and John that those opposing the Gospel be wiped out Jesus made it clear that it was totally unacceptable. Not to retaliate in the face of provocation demands greater courage and strength. Nothing should deviate us from our ultimate goal. (James Valladares in Your Words O Lord, Are Spirit And They Are Life).
17) The Hound of Heaven: God has been unrelenting in his search for humankind from the beginning of our existence. Some people have been very aware of this and have committed God’s search for us to print. Francis Thompson wrote the poem “The Hound of Heaven, “which begins:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
The Hound of Heaven continues to invite each one of us to follow him. Whenever we say “yes,” the Hound will invite us anew to change our lives. Don’t be surprised when you hear God’s voice, for He makes invitations to ordinary people, like you and me, while we are doing ordinary things in our lives. (Rev. Mr. Lee Hunt).
18) Right Choices: A guard in charge of a lighthouse along a dangerous coast was given enough oil for one month and told to keep the light burning every night. One day a woman asked for some oil so that her children could stay warm. Then a farmer came. His son needed oil for a lamp so he could study. Another needed some for an engine. The guard saw each as a worthy request and gave some oil to satisfy all. By the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse was dry. That night the beacon was dark, and three ships crashed on the rocks. More than one hundred lives were lost. The lighthouse assistant explained what he had done and why. But the prosecutor replied, “You were given only one and very important task: to keep the light burning. Every other thing was secondary. Deviation from your responsibility has caused loss of many lives and much property. You have no excuse.” -Temptation is not necessarily a choice between good and evil. Perhaps more confusing and tempting is the conflict when one must choose between the good and the best. The lighthouse keeper in our story found himself in such a conflict situation. And that is what happened to the would-be disciples in today’s Gospel story. In such cases the good easily becomes the enemy of the best. One must say NO to a good thing in order to say YES to the one thing necessary. (Gilbert K. inLiturgy and Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
19) Are You a Jesus Fan or Follower: A group of Christian fans was holding a Prayer Meeting in Russia, when such a thing was completely forbidden. Suddenly the door was broken down by the boot of a soldier, who came into the room, faced the group, with a machine gun in hand, and commanded, “If there’s any one of you who doesn’t really believe in Jesus, then get out now, while you have a chance.” There was a rush for the door. The soldier then closed the door and stood in front of the remainder of the group, with machine gun in hand. He looked around the room, as the people were beginning to think that their end had come. Then he smiled and said, “Actually, I believe in Jesus too, and you’re better off without those others!”
(Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
20) Our Commitment to Him  In 1982 the same year the film Chariots of Fire won the Academy Award, an article appeared in the Reader’s Digest. It was about a Catholic advertising executive. In spite of her successful career, she felt emptiness in her life. One morning, during a breakfast meeting with her marketing consultant, she mentioned that emptiness. “Do you want to fill it?” her colleague asked. “Of course, I do,” She said. He looked at her and replied, “Then start each day with an hour of prayer.” She looked at him and said, “Don, you’ve got to be kidding. If I tried that I’d go off my rocker. “Her friend smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I said 20 years ago.” Then he said something else that really made her think. He said, “You’re trying to fit God into your life. Instead, you should be trying to fit your life around God.” The woman left the restaurant in turmoil. Begin each morning with prayer? Begin each morning with an hour of prayer? Absolutely out of the question! Yet, the next morning the woman found herself doing exactly that. And she’s been doing it ever since. The woman is the first to admit that it has not always been easy. There have been mornings when she was filled with great peace and joy. But there have been other mornings when she was filled with nothing but weariness. And it was on these weary mornings that she remembered something else that her marketing consultant said: “There will be times when your mind just won’t go into God’s sanctuary. That’s when you spend your hour in God’s waiting room. Still, you’re there, and God appreciates your struggle to stay there. What’s important is the commitment.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
21) Consider Paul’s Commitment to the Kingdom: Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys; in danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). (Fr. Tony Kayala) L/19
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7.     A Family Vacation:

Once upon a time a mommy and a daddy were preparing to take their two children for two weeks vacation in the country. They had, as do most mommies and daddies these days, a sports utility vehicle (SUV). They figured that they would travel light. For two weeks you don’t have to bring the whole house, do you?  
 Since the SUV was big, it was easy to pile things into it. First of all, they packed clothes. Because you can never tell what you might have to do or where you might have to go at the Lake or what the weather will be like, they didn’t really pack any more things then they would need for, let us say, a trip to Paris. Moreover they wanted their kids to look their best. So they packed comprehensive wardrobes for them too. You can never tell what might happen on a vacation, can you? 
 Then there was the matter of toys and similar stuff. The weather might be bad so they had to pack enough toys to keep the kids happy if they were imprisoned in a cottage for two weeks. But the weather might be good, so they had to pack enough toys that the kids wouldn’t be bored on the beach.  Then each of the kids had their favorite toys without which they could not survive. Did I forget the family dog?
 Eventually the SUV was fully loaded and there was room for everyone except the mommy and the daddy. So they rearranged things. There hardly was room to breathe in SUV. When they got to the lake, they had to unpack all their stuff. When their vacation was over (as alas vacations tend to be) they repacked everything to drive home. Then when they arrived home they had to unpack everything. No one was talking to one another for three days. (A. Greeley)
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8.     The kind of player you can’t coach 

A tall, gangly, self-conscious seventh-grader was on her junior high girls’ track team.  A meet scheduled for one Saturday had to be postponed to the following Saturday — when the girl’s church had planned a community service project that she had signed up for.  She went to her track coach and told him about the conflict.  He told her, “Your teammates are counting on you and you can’t let them down.  I expect you to be here for the meet.”
She went home in tears.  The next day she talked to him again; he responded, “You are either here for the meet or you turn in your uniform.”
After a sleepless, tearful night, she made her decision.
The next day she went to the coach’s office, handed him her uniform and walked away.
Her parents and the parents of her teammates were surprised and even shocked: their own teenage daughter was actually choosing God and church over her track team, even though that was the way they raised her.
The girl said simply, “This is about God.” 
(From “Expect a call” by Kyle Childress, The Christian Century, January 9, 2007.)
This seventh-grader responds to the responsibility of discipleship with the clear, unhesitating, unambiguous and total commitment that Jesus asks of anyone who would be his disciple.  There can be no “but first . . . “, no “in a minute”, no “on second thought.”  Jesus’ Gospel is not a collection of pious words we commit to memory but a perspective and attitude by which we live our lives.  We cannot be disciples by being mere spectators of God’s presence; possessing a baptismal certificate alone does not mark us as disciples of the Risen One.  Authentic discipleship calls us to become involved in the hard work and courage of making the reign of God a reality — regardless of the cost, regardless of the difficulty, regardless of the sacrifice. (Courtesy: Connections)
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9.     John Calvin 

In 1536 Reformer William Farel recruited John Calvin to come to Geneva, Switzerland to pastor St. Peter's Church. Calvin, a sickly man all his life, was on his way to Strasbourg to be a quiet scholar, but he relented under this need, this request, to become a pastor. 
Two years later, the city fathers publicly banished Calvin from Geneva. Actually, Calvin felt relieved. The moral chaos of the city was terrible. He went to Strasbourg. Three years later in 1541, the same city fathers who had tried to humiliate him begged Calvin to return and help restore order. 
He didn't want to go this second time, either, "yet," he wrote, "because I know that I am not my own master, I offer my heart as a true sacrifice to the Lord."
This became the motto of Calvin's life. His emblem would include a hand holding out a heart to God with the inscription, prompte et sincere ("promptly and sincerely"). Promptly and sincerely Calvin answered a call to very difficult task.
Jesus had moved from obscurity to prominence in a matter of months. News of his miraculous healing had spread throughout the region. Crowds flocked to benefit from his powerful presence. His disciples followed him with enthusiasm. The long-awaited kingdom was at hand.
But his fortunes soon began to change. Opposition developed. The crowds got smaller. The zeal of the disciples began to wane. Caesar's reign became more self-evident than God's dawning reign. It was to this background, Luke tells us, that Jesus resolutely "set his face to go to Jerusalem." Why should he spoil success by going to the capital? His strength was in the countryside. But there was no changing his mind. To announce God's reign, he would have to go to the center of earthly power. What caused Jesus to journey to Jerusalem? 
1. First, He Knew Who He Was.
2. Second, He Knew Where He Was Going.
3. Third, Jesus Knew Who Walked with Him. 
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10.  Road trip!  

It's more than a bad coming-of-age movie comedy (2000). For late teens and twenty-somethings, it is a coming of age rite of passage, even an initiatory pilgrimage into adulthood. Whether it is a short trip from a small town to a big city for the weekend, a coast-to-coast marathon to see the USA in a small over-packed car, or a backpacking Euro-rail adventure, a road trip is a first step in finding our own unique life path. Even for adults and the aged, there is nothing like a road trip to get us out of our familiar, comfortable ruts, and give us a new perspective on the world.  
Yet road trips don't come with guarantees of safety and success. Road trips come with potholes and pitfalls, genuine dangers, and encounters with the unknown and unpredictable. Sometimes Road Trips can end up as Road Kill. In March of 2013, a Seattle man named Richard Swanson, trying to dribble a soccer ball 10,000 miles (16,000km) to Brazil in time for the 2014 World Cup and raise money for a football charity, died after being hit by a pickup truck on the Oregon coast. Just this past week (16 June 2013), a 16 year old boy from Victoria was killed while participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer marathon. The fatal accident happened in Arlington, Wash., just north of Seattle, when the kid was riding with his mother and uncle in the cancer fundraiser. He attempted to pass a group of cyclists and spilled onto the road and was run over by an oncoming car. "On the road" adventures are not safe. They can end up as "road kill" stories. 
In this week's gospel text Jesus starts off on the ultimate road trip - his journey to Jerusalem and to the cross. The world views this journey as the epitome of a "bad trip" - a trip that ended in Jesus' betrayal, rejection, torture, and death. In other words, here was a "road trip" than ended up as "road kill." But Jesus' disciples - whether in the first century or the twenty-first century - view this Jerusalem road trip as something quite different: the start of a great Missio Dei story - the triumph of Christ's mission in the world, the journey that transformed the life paths of all subsequent generations who have followed Jesus. 
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11.   A New Kingdom Coming 

John Wycliffe had a vision of a Bible in the common English tongue. But dogmatists anchored to the past killed him for it. John Huss dreamed a dream of a responsible Christian life guided by the scriptures. Traditionalists burned him at the stake. Martin Luther was awakened to a new reality of God's grace -- an awakening not shared by contemporaries profiting from the status quo. Consequently, he was hunted for years for revealing an exciting and preferable future. A kingdom was coming and the powers of the past could not prevail against it. 
Maurice A. Fetty, The Divine Advocacy
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12.  A Whole New Set of Values 

Barbara Brown Taylor once said that if a man in the church loses his job, the pastor may well call this person to offer sympathy and prayer. But suppose that a pastor one day got wind of the fact that a certain member of his congregation had gotten a big promotion at work along with significantly more pay. And suppose the pastor then called this person and said, "Charlie, I've heard your news and so was wondering if it would be OK if I came by sometime to pray with you about this. I'm concerned about the temptations this new venture may throw your way as well as what it may do to your ability to serve here at church. So I'd like to pray for God's strength for you in the face of this new success."

Probably we'd be taken aback. But as Brown Taylor notes, that is only because we do cordon off parts of our lives from the total claims Jesus makes on us. We act as though we are our own after all and so why would the church have anything to say to us so long as life is chugging along smoothly? If we ask that, however, we reveal that we, too, quietly resist the same self-denying sacrifice that seems so offensive to some outside the church. It looks as though the only way you will ever see this self-denial as a source of comfort is if you die and are reborn. You need to kill off ordinary ways of defining value and bring to life a whole new set of values. The place to start is by admitting that without God, you are lost in sin's wilderness and unable to find your own way out. Once you know that, you are wide open to the call of the one who hopefully says, "Follow me."

Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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13.  Don't Look Back 

Frankly, none of us are going to make the cut to follow Jesus. Our desires for soft pillows and comfortable beds, for fulfilling family and social obligations, will frequently have higher priorities than following Jesus -- especially following Jesus all the way to the cross. We might be willing to give up some evils in our lives to follow Jesus, but to give up all these good things -- to put them as a lower priority than Jesus? That is radical discipleship, but Paul writes about doing this in Phil 3:4-11. He considers all his past, good, religious deeds as "rubbish".
Perhaps the image of putting one's hand to the plow and not looking back (or driving forward in a car while not looking out the back window) refers to looking back both at all the very good things in our lives (and in a congregation's life), like family and friends, comforts and satisfactions, "successful" programs; but also all the sins in our lives, which have been forgiven by Christ. We can neither wallow in our past sins nor boast of our past successes if we are to be fit for the kingdom of God.

Brian Stoffregen, Exegetical Notes
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14.  Jesus Wants Followers 

Jesus doesn't want fans. He wants followers. Jesus wants people who will do more than simply sit in a pew and clap and cheer. He wants people who will take up a cross daily, the cross of service and love.
Some of you may know the story of Rich Stearns. When Rich Stearns was a young man and new Christian, he got engaged. His fiancée like many young brides wanted to register for china at the local department store. But he said to her, ''As long as there are children starving in the world, we will not own china, crystal, or silver."
What a wonderful statement of discipleship. His answer reminds me of that first man in our lesson who said, "I will follow you wherever you go."
However, as Rich entered the corporate world and started climbing the ladder, he found he had a really good head for business. Twenty years later he was the CEO of Lennox--ironically, the top producer of luxury tableware--fine china--in the country.
One day Rich received a phone call from an organization called World Vision, asking if he would consider getting involved with them. So Rich went to Rakai, Uganda, an area considered ground zero for the AIDS pandemic. In that village he sat in a thatched hut with a thirteen-year-old boy with the same first name as his--Richard. A pile of stones outside the door of the hut marked where they had buried Richard's father, who had died of AIDS. Another pile of stones marked where they buried his mother, who also died of AIDS. That kind of thing happens every day in Africa.
Rich talked for a while with young Richard--now the head of the household trying to raise his two younger brothers--and asked him at one point, "Do you have a Bible?"
Yes, the boy said, and he went into the other room and brought back the one book in their house.   "Are you able to read it?" Rich asked, and at that the boy's face lit up. "I love to read the gospel of John because it says Jesus loves children," the boy said.
And suddenly Rich Stearns knew what he had to do. He needed to follow Jesus full-time. He left his job and his house and his title. Today he's working for God.
Rich Stearns is the kind of man Christ is looking for. Christ is not looking for people who'll get excited for a few moments on Sunday morning and then forget all about their good intentions. He's not looking for people who are suffering from the "But-first" syndrome and who are continually making excuses about why now is not a good time for them to make a commitment. Jesus is looking for followers--people who will wake up each day with a determination to live as Christ would have them live. Can he count on you? 
John Rich Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009). Cited in John Ortberg, The Me I Want To Be (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
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15.  Discipleship Occurs Only In Community 

Very few people are expert in anything all by themselves. They need a supporting community. Do you know a good musician who was not trained, nurtured and sustained by the music community? Show me an athlete who achieves excellence all alone, apart from the athletic community. Very few wise men become so without the accumulated wisdom of the centuries as expressed in colleges and universities and libraries. Medical people are more like ensembles and symphonies than soloists. What business tycoon does it all on his own without dedicated experts in finance, engineering, personnel, and marketing? Excellence requires participation in, and support of, a community of like-minded people. 
Likewise in the church -- a forerunner of the new kingdom. Very few achieve Christian maturity all by themselves. Seldom is the Bible studied diligently without the aid of scholars and teachers. Rarely are people led to generosity by their own impulses.
Maurice A. Fetty, The Divine Advocacy
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16.  Hide and Seek

Do you remember playing "Hide & Seek" when you were a child? You would close your eyes and count to a hundred if you were "it" while all the other kids would run and hide. And then when you reached a hundred, you would yell, "Ready or not, here I come!"

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem whether they were ready or not. For thousands of years, the Jewish people had been counting the passing days thinking they were ready for his coming, and then when he came they ran to hide and never really came out to welcome him.  
Rosemary Brown, Hide and Seek
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17.  On Training Disciples 

It is better to train ten people than to do the work of ten people. But it is harder.
Moody
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18.  Moving On  

Some people are not able to enjoy the present or prepare for tomorrow because they are still living in the past. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe has put it like this: "Do not say, "˜Why were the former days better than these?' You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you down. We must learn from the past but not live in the past." Or as Thomas Holdcroft once put it, "The past is a guide post, not a hitching post."
King Duncan, Collected Sermons
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19.  Consider Paul's Commitment to the Kingdom 

Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys; in danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).