“Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?”1
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem. The great crowd of followers expected him to be welcomed as the Christ, the Messiah; and, they were hoping to bask in his reflected glory.
Not so fast!
Jesus suddenly turns and cries out:
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… anyone of you who does not renounce all of his possessions cannot be my disciple.”2
What’s this: hate your closest and most loved people and even your own life; carry your own cross; renounce all your possessions? What he’s asking is impossible. Even if “hate” means having an attitude to make him first in importance, even if “carry your own cross” means only to imitate him in bearing suffering or hardship for his sake, even if “renounce” means do not become more attached to things instead of him, it’s still very difficult.
I imagine the “great crowd” lost its enthusiasm and slowly melted away. They were expecting a coronation. Instead Jesus promises a cross and a crucifixion.
Stay forever or leave now. Continue with the journey and give up your own expectations of glory, comfort, and ease.
That’s our choice.
1 Wisdom 9:13
2 Luke 14:26- 27, 33
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, C16