Cost of Discipleship

Over the last few years you might have heard me calling on all of us to become “intentional disciples.” What does it mean to be intentional disciples? Most Catholics are tempted to believe that they have done their duty because they received the sacraments – baptism, reconciliation, communion and confirmation. We can easily conclude that we are following Jesus because we moved from one milestone to another. Becoming Jesus’ disciples does not happen automatically. The famous preacher Johnny Holliday used to say: “You don’t become a Christian by sleeping in the church for ten years any more than you become a car by sleeping in the garage.” We need to make a choice.

In other words, Jesus has to become the most important person in our life. We need to take His teachings seriously and put them into practice. It is not about doing the minimum but reaching for the maximum. We need to be ready to pay the price. There is a cost to our discipleship and there is no cheap grace.

In chapter 6 of John’s gospel there is a moving scene. Jesus tells His disciples that He is the Bread of Life, and that unless they eat His body and drink His blood, they will not have life in them. Some of His listeners no longer walk with Him because they find His claim to be hard to accept; they leave His side. Then Jesus looks at the faithful ones and asks almost with disappointment in His voice, “Would you also go away?” Jesus does not water down His teaching; He does not modify His serious claim that He gives His very body and blood for our nourishment.

The Master addresses the same questions to each one of us: “Will you go away from Me? Which of my teachings do you find hard to accept? Are you prepared to walk with Me even to the heights of Calvary?” What words of Christ do I find hard to accept? What words shake my determination and undermine my commitment?

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of life. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” Are these words hard to accept? Do I firmly believe in the Real Presence? Or, do I rather look at the Eucharist merely as a fellowship meal that mourns the death of a friend?

Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. He who saves his life will lose it. He who loses his life for my sake will keep it for everlasting life. Take up your cross and follow me. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?” Are these words hard to accept?

Jesus said, “No one can serve two Masters. You cannot serve God and money. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be. If you will be perfect, sell all you have and give it to the poor. Then come and follow me. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” How do I react to those words?

Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow. Look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. They do not reap or spin. Yet your Heavenly Father takes care of them. Will He not take care of you? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Are these words hard to live by?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace-makers for they will be called children of God. Love those who hate you. Pray for those who hurt you and calumniate you. If they strike you on one cheek, show them the other.” Is Jesus asking too much?

Jesus said, “Do not judge and you will not be judged! Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a plank in your own. The measure you use to measure against others will be used to measure against you. Be compassionate as your Heavenly Father is compassionate.” Do you think that Jesus is too unrealistic?

Jesus said, “How often should you forgive your brother? Not once, not twice. Not seven times, but seventy times seven. If your Father forgives you without question, should you not forgive those who hurt you?” Are these words too hard to accept?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. What comes out of a man’s heart is what makes him unclean. If a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he has committed adultery.” Is Jesus out of touch with our real world?

Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for the many. You have seen me wash your feet. You must now wash each other’s feet. If you want to be the first, you should be the last. You should be the servant of all.” Am I ready to live by these words?

Will you say that these are hard sayings? Will you leave his side? Or, with Peter, will you declare, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”?

To be a true follower of Jesus is not easy. Let us pray that God will give us the grace to rise up to the challenge.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church


4:30 pm (vigil) - Upper Church


7:30 am - Upper Church

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9:30 am - Gym

10:30 am - Upper Church

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