When I was eleven I had this rough and tumble Schwinn bike. I thought it was the toughest thing on wheels until my mom unknowingly backed the station wagon right over it as it lay on the ground in the driveway. Within just a few days I realized the torture of not having a bike anymore and so I took on tons of extra chores and saved up enough money that I eventually got another bike…but with this one, I always made sure it was on the kickstand! I kept it well-oiled, clean, and in tip-top shape because I had worked really hard for it and it was valuable to me…I was finally free again to have fun with my friends!
For each us, when something is really important, really valuable to us, we’ve learned to care for and protect it. Whether it’s a house, a car, an investment portfolio…whatever the case might be, we always give it extra special care, don’t we? If we want that great vacation, we save, we invest, we scrimp…and we let nothing deter us.
Well, in today’s readings, we are asked to consider the invitation from God that we be His disciples. God, in His great love and generosity, desires us to follow him in order that we might share in the fullness of His life always. Consider the beginning of today’s gospel: Jesus resolutely determines to go to Jerusalem. Remember, Jerusalem is where his mission is fulfilled: he is rejected by all and He offers His life for us so that we might have life in its fullness. We see the same rejection from the people of the Samaritan village, but Jesus is not deterred. In Jerusalem, Jesus continues without distraction toward His paschal mystery. On the way, He invites and challenges many not to be concerned with the dead or with family, wealth, history or means, but simply to proclaim the reign of God always and everywhere.
Yes, discipleship is about risk and abandoning ourselves to the Lord. But if we wish to dwell in God’s reign…if we desire to share eternal life, then the same invitation, tasks, challenges, risks and demands belong to us…but so too do the rewards! There is no easy way, but there is still the way that leads to life with God. That way will not be without struggle or rejection, but with our resolve to follow after Him because of the great and awesome reward that is promised is very important, very valuable to us who have faith.
I was willing to work my tail off, to scrimp and save for another bike because it connected me to friends and tons of fun. Now, because of my faith—my trust in God’s faithful promise to share His life with me always, and my desire to share my life with Him—it behooves me to resolutely proclaim the reign of God, to constantly be aware of my faults, to reflect regularly on my desire to be holy, because this is so important, so valuable to me.
Ultimately, Jesus reigns as our king in God’s Kingdom. From rejection and ridicule, to life eternal: may these be so valuable and important to you as well as to live in discipleship.
God love you always.