Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:
‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
The Gospel on Sunday, the 13th Sunday of the Year, reminds of the call to follow Christ and the challenges it contains.
At one level all is easy: welcome a prophet, give a cup of cold water to ‘one of these little ones’. At another level all is difficult even counter-intuitive: called to communion with Jesus and the family of the Church? Well, have no preference for your own family. Choosing life? Well, take up your cross and follow…
This is a choice that has to have real consequences in our lives and our other choices. Otherwise we have not chosen.
It is also a choice that cannot be made once and for all, never to be revisited. Rather it is a choice we have to make and affirm each day, indeed each moment that we face any choice: do we respond as disciple of Jesus, or not. Holy habits can make some of these choices, well, habitual, and help us form certain dispositions… but there will still be those moments, those choices we have not prepared for. Closeness to Jesus will help us make the better choice: closeness to Jesus, and recourse to him will be our consolation and our aid as we struggle and even as we fail.
Abbey Interior. Lerins, France. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.