The cost of discipleship

The cost of discipleship

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (Matthew 16:21-27)
September 3, 2017

By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

WE often forget that the Lord has many types of “blessings.” Some are obvious, like when things go pretty well in life for quite a time, and even for a long time – smooth sailing on a glorious day . . . . Then we congratulate ourselves and, of course, we thank God too, always hoping that He may continue to bless us . . . .

At other times God’s blessings may come to us very much “in disguise.” For a time (or even for too long a time!) we may find it difficult to “recognize” them. So, a day may come when we will feel our shoulders burdened with a weight that seems to crush us–the weight of suffering in any or all of its forms: physical, moral, spiritual . . . . And we may be brought to ask if the Lord still cares for us . . . .

When this happens, we should remember that there are “blessings in disguise” . . . . That will be “the moment of truth”–the moment when the real disciple comes alive, in all humility and trust. And a wonderful sunshine will break through the dark clouds of sorrow and discouragement that had preceded it . . .

Then, with God’s grace, we will come to understand many things: the sighs of those who suffered before us . . . the frailty of our strength and virtues. . . . We will understand the meaning of the words of Jesus when he spoke of crosses to be taken up and carried patiently after him as a sign of our faithfulness to him. (See Mt 16:26.)

We will gradually discover that there are values in life which are appreciated only when we are brought low by suffering, or while groaning under the weight of our cross(es). But especially, we will realize that those “mishaps” and failures have drawn us closer to our Teacher. We will discover that, now, we have come to resemble him much more than when things were “going well.”

In those days suffering will be seen for what it was meant to be: a blessing that tests, purifies, and strengthens. And the crucifixes in our houses will no longer be pious decorations, but our coat of arms, the real source of our strength, of our dignity, and our hope. Hope, indeed! Because it is only in the cross of Christ that our crosses take on meaning, acquire supernatural value, and open our hearts to the expectation of our “resurrection day.”