USCCB REFLECTION

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THE PRIVILEGE AND COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

“The Twelve accompanied Him, and also some women…” —Luke 8:1-2

When we were baptized, we became disciples of Jesus. Disciples accompany Jesus. They help preach and proclaim “the good news of the kingdom of God” (Lk 8:1). Because Jesus’ disciples have “been cured of evil spirits and maladies” (Lk 8:2), they are eager to use their authority and power from Jesus to heal and free others (see Mt 10:1). Disciples also assist the leaders of the Church out of their means (Lk 8:3). They do not love money; rather, they express their love for God by giving Him their money and themselves (see 1 Tm 6:10). Jesus’ disciples flee from the ways of the world (1 Tm 6:11). They “seek after integrity, piety, faith, love, steadfastness, and a gentle spirit” (1 Tm 6:11). They “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tm 6:12) and “take firm hold on the everlasting life to which” they “were called” (1 Tm 6:12).
To live as disciples of Jesus, we must deny our very selves, take up our cross each day, and follow in His steps (Lk 9:23). To be disciples of Jesus, we must put Jesus in a class by Himself and love Him so supremely and uniquely that by comparison we seem to hate everyone else — even our families and ourselves (Lk 14:26). To be disciples of Jesus, we must renounce all our possessions (Lk 14:33).
Make the greatest decision of your life. Decide to live your Baptism and live as a disciple of Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the privilege of being Your disciple and following You even to the cross.
Promise: “Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and a trap. They are letting themselves be captured by foolish and harmful desires which drag men down to ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all evil.” —1 Tm 6:9-10
Praise: When in need of money, Joseph trusted in God and the money came unexpectedly through his cousin.

Prepare your soul for temptation

St Augustine’s
[ 354 – 430 A.D. ]
sermon On Pastors

The negligent shepherd fails to say to the believer: My son, come to the service of God. Stand fast in fear and in righteousness, and prepare your soul for temptation. A shepherd who does say this strengthens the one who is weak and makes him strong. Such a believer will then not hope for the prosperity of this world. For if he has been taught to hope for worldly gain, he will be corrupted by prosperity. When adversity comes, he will be wounded or perhaps destroyed.You have already been told about the wicked things shepherds desire. Let us now consider what they neglect. You have failed to strengthen what was weak, to heal what was sick, and to bind up what was injured (that is, what was broken). You did not call back the straying sheep, nor seek out the lost. What was strong you have destroyed.Yes, you have cut it down and killed it. The sheep is weak, that is to say, its heart is weak, and so, incautious and unprepared, it may give in to temptations.
The builder who builds in such manner is not building the believer on a rock but upon sand. But the rock was Christ. Christians must imitate Christ’s sufferings, not set their hearts on pleasures. He who is weak will be strengthened when told: “Yes, expect the temptations of this world, but the Lord will deliver you from them all if your heart has not abandoned him. For it was to strengthen your heart that he came to suffer and die, came to be spit upon and crowned with thorns, came to be accused of shameful things, yes, came to be fastened to the wood of the cross. All these things he did for you, and you did nothing. He did them not for himself, but for you.”
But what sort of shepherds are they who for fear of giving offence not only fail to prepare the sheep for the temptations that threaten, but even promise them worldly happiness? God himself made no such promise to this world. On the contrary, God foretold hardship upon hardship in this world until the end of time. And you want the Christian to be exempt from these troubles? Precisely because he is a Christian, he is destined to suffer more in this world.
For the Apostle says: All who desire to live a holy life in Christ will suffer persecution. But you, shepherd, seek what is yours and not what is Christ’s, you disregard what the Apostle says: All who want to live a holy life in Christ will suffer persecution. You say instead: “If you live a holy life in Christ, all good things will be yours in abundance. If you do not have children, you will embrace and nourish all men, and none of them shall die.” Is this the way you build up the believer? Take note of what you are doing and where you are placing him. You have built him on sand. The rains will come, the river will overflow and rush in, the winds will blow, and the elements will dash against that house of yours. It will fall, and its ruin will be great.
Lift him up from the sand and put him on the rock. Let him be in Christ, if you wish him to be a Christian. Let him turn his thoughts to sufferings, however unworthy they may be in comparison to Christ’s. Let him centre his attention on Christ, who was without sin, and yet made restitution for what he had not done. Let him consider Scripture, which says to him: He chastises every son whom he acknowledges. Let him prepare to be chastised, or else not seek to be acknowledged as a son.

SUPPER TIME

“Matthew got up and followed Him. Now it happened that, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s home, many tax collectors and those known as sinners came to join Jesus and His disciples at dinner.” —Matthew 9:9-10
 
After Matthew decided to leave his job and follow Jesus, he had Jesus over for supper (Mt 9:9-10). We too need to have supper with Jesus after our conversion. In fact, we need to have supper with Jesus frequently, even daily. At this supper, Jesus will work miracles. He will change bread and wine into His Body and Blood. This makes it possible for us to receive into our bodies the Body and Blood of Jesus. In this way, we have an unimaginable intimacy and communion with the Lord. We are in Him and He in us (Jn 6:56).
This communion with the Lord becomes the source, center, and goal of our lives. When Jesus returns at the end of the world, He will have supper with those in communion with Him (see Lk 12:37) and take them to His everlasting wedding banquet in heaven. “Happy are they who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rv 19:9).
Right now, Jesus is talking to you as He talked to Matthew. Jesus says: “Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears Me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with Me” (Rv 3:20). Open the door; give your life totally to Jesus; have supper with Jesus; be in daily, intimate Communion with God.
 
Prayer: Father, may everyone reading One Bread, One Body want to be a daily communicant.
Promise: “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another lovingly.” —Eph 4:1-2
Praise: St. Matthew, once a greedy tax collector, left his job to follow Jesus. He then wrote: “How blest are the poor in Spirit, the reign of God is theirs” (Mt 5:3).