“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”
This could cost you, discipleship that is. Yes, it will cost you, because as Christians we must be ready, willing, and actively giving of ourselves. Jesus’ love is known in Greek as kenosis, which means ‘an "emptying", from the root word kenos, which means "empty". Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus "...emptied himself...." Jesus as the Son of God, Word of the Father, is in Himself a kenosis of the Father, both in and outside of, created time. Before the world was created, the Father generated a perfect image of Himself, perfect love, for love alone. “God is love.” Through Jesus, by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, we enter into this heavenly relationship of the Trinity.
This comes as a free gift. God freely gives this relationship of adoption to us as His beloved children. We can do nothing to earn this. We simply say ‘yes’ to the invitation. If the Pope invited you to dinner at the Vatican, one might wonder what you did to deserve such a privilege. What if the Pope said, “I invited you because I wanted to. You did nothing to deserve it. I simply want to pour out God’s love to you as a follower of Christ.”? We might still be suspicious in our consumer society. Is anything really free? I would say ‘Yes’, yet in the case of God’s invitation and gift, we need to continuously reassert our ‘yes’ to Him and His grace.
Once we say ‘yes’ to faith in Christ’s saving action in our lives, we are called to affirm this ‘yes’ through acts of love, carrying our cross as disciples. We make choices every day as to how we think, speak and act. Even as I write this article there is a lovely cookie waiting near my computer within reach. A delicious cookie I can either eat or not eat. Before I eat this cookie, my conscience, if it is awake, is prepared to offer a moral assessment of the situation, asking questions like, “Is it a fast day? How many cookies have you already eaten? Will this affect your health in some way? Or what is God’s will for you at this particular moment?” My conscience may approve, saying “Eat and give thanks to God”, or disapprove, saying, “Aren’t you supposed to be focused on your bulletin article right now?” So far, the cookie has survived the paragraph.
As disciples we are called to pick up our cross and follow Him, which usually deals with matter that is more difficult than whether or not to eat a cookie. This picking up of our cross is an act of the will, a free reciprocation of love. It is one more ‘yes’ on top of our original ‘yes’. The grace to pick up our cross is again freely given by God. We simply need to say ‘yes’. What is the cost of this ‘yes’? It is humility, affirming that God’s way is better than my way; it is honesty, which says that it was true and good to say ‘yes’ in the first place; and it is also wise, because by our ‘yes’s we remain in Him, Who is perfect love, both in this life and the next.
(And thank you Lord for good cookies!)
Many parishioners have asked about the plan for a new rectory to be built on our property. At this point, with the interim residence providing great access to the parish and enough room for two clerics, the urgency of building something new is not as great as it used to be. We are also finishing a five year plan that should include some vision for the near future and how it affects our facilities. The economy too has been rather unpredictable, which makes it a little more precarious to borrow money for more construction. The current residence, however, lacks a ground floor bedroom for an elderly or ailing priest. The bedrooms are also small and not suites, which would allow for a life more conducive to study and correspondence. So our rectory plan remains on the stove, but on a back burner until it becomes more obvious that this is our highest priority.
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