These dramatic conditions for discipleship were rarely fulfilled in the early church or by Christians throughout history. They have often been misused as literal prescriptions for religious life (religious were sometimes not permitted to visit a dying family member). Is their relevance, then, only as a memory of a utopian vision by Jesus the martyred prophet, or are they limited to a few heroic saintseven though Jesus says, any one of you? They are rather indicative of a kind of total commitment that every follower of Christ should be prepared to live. The radical demands of Jesus call us to center our lives on the suffering and risen Christwhich relativizes even family values and the security of possessions. Yet the ultimate reversal remains that the one who chooses the kingdom of God over family will receive an overabundant return in this present age, and eternal life in the age to come (Lk. 18:38), and that those who seek to preserve their lives will lose them, while those who lose them will save them (Lk. 17:33).
• Pray about how the Sunday Eucharist may be a time of healing and of acceptance of others.
• Thinking of the challenges you face, pray for the wisdom to find “the resources to finish” (Lk. 14:28).
• Pray about how even family relationships and material needs may hinder a more intense following of Christ.