(Photo illustration by Phil Younk)

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Based on the Gospel of Luke 14:25-33
“What will it cost?” That’s what your parents asked each other long before summer vacation ended and school started as they planned for the clothes, tuition and school supplies you would need. Each year as you go to school, your mom and dad will continue to plan, sacrifice and provide for what you need to finish your education so you can become whatever you want to be – a teacher, a carpenter, a nurse, a priest, a jet pilot, a computer technician, a plumber and so on. At the same time, you will need to study and work hard to reach your goals.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus explains what it will cost to be one of his disciples. He really isn’t saying we should hate anyone. Jesus commands us to honor our parents and to love one another. Jesus is simply saying that he has to be first in our lives.

Jesus gives two examples of how necessary it is to think about the cost before going ahead with any plans or projects. The first example is about a wise builder who would not begin a project without being sure he had the building supplies and ability to finish the job; the second example is about a king with a small army who needed to think about his chances for victory before going into battle.

When we received the sacrament of baptism, we were given a share in the life of God and set apart as people of God to do the work of God. From that moment, and with the help of sacramental grace, we were chosen to bring Jesus and his love to others.

It is not easy to follow Jesus and to live the way he taught us. He wants us to think carefully about being his disciples, the total commitment it takes, and our willingness to put our relationship with him first before all other relationships. That means studying and learning about Jesus; keeping the Ten Commandments; praying; going to Mass; receiving the sacraments, especially holy Communion and reconciliation; and loving God and others by practicing kindness, forgiveness and generosity.

Following Jesus as our leader now means someday we will share God’s love, peace and happiness in heaven for all eternity. That’s worth the cost.

Gracious God, give us the courage to be good disciples of your Son, Jesus, and to put him first – always first – in our lives.