Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
When Christ called his disciples and followers he demanded a great deal. The challenge of Christ is great and so too are the promises.
He invited them to leave behind the things which give us most security and comfort; apparently simple things like home, family and work. To the first person in the Gospel he explains that the one who follows Christ knows no definitive home; he is always available to teach and preach wherever the need occurs, wherever the call of vocation leads.
To the second he says that the demands of family life must be left sometimes to others. The person who would commit themselves totally to Christ in ministry is generally to be detached from family obligations; not unmindful of them or disparaging of them, but radically free so as to give all the more generously.
To the third, Christ advises not to be constantly looking back at what has been left behind. He teaches them not to see their call as a burden or as something negative. He counsels them not to dwell on what has been given up, but on what has been promised and given. He advises them not to live in the past; not to look backward always but to strain forward, to set their faces resolutely, as he did, in the direction of their goal.
Jesus invites his followers to take the road with him in a resolute way, not reluctantly or in a half-hearted way. The committed follower is ideally to be free and available to follow the needs of the Gospel, free sometimes from familial ties and oriented to the task at hand, not preoccupied with the past.
We are to be servants of God and of God’s people, like Elisha in the first reading; joyful in our inheritance like the psalmist, and free from self-indulgence as taught by Saint Paul.
We are to be free to give generously, free so as to rise above the cares of the world, free to serve, free to commit oneself generously, free to renounce all for the following of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel. We are to trust in Christ and set aside the false security we might find in material things or in worldly position. We are sometimes called to be free from the privilege and the ties of family; free so as to give all and to give freely and generously.
The true call of Christ is never imposed- it is taken on freely or not at all. It is not a burden imposed but a freedom to live in such a way that we may be more effective servants of the Gospel. It is a call to renunciation and sacrifice, a claim to the whole, undivided life of the person.The world has its own preoccupations and obsessions and its own claims on us. The call of Christ, the lifestyle Christ preached and lived and the priorities and values of the Gospel are completely different. We are called to give and to serve and to love to the point of laying down our lives, not grudgingly or with one eye on the world and all it promises, but with the joy and generosity and the resoluteness of the Christ who set his face for Jerusalem and all that he knew would follow on that decision.