13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Our human history had given births to charismatic individuals who possessed the spark of wisdom and were followed by their disciples: Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, to name a few. These were the persons who revolutionized the world and changed the course of world history during their lifetime and even today. So what is the difference between following them and our following of Jesus? Obviously they were all human beings who tried to offer humanity something greater than life. We can follow them in their teaching and learn from their wisdom. But Jesus Christ was the only one who possessed divinity so He could say “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). This is the reason why we are following Jesus.
“Going up to Jerusalem” was not a simple trek just because Jerusalem was on a higher ground. It meant a radical decision for Jesus to leave His comfort zones in Galilee in order to enter into the mysterious “project of the Father”. Jesus being aware of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant of the Old Testament, it meant for Him embracing death and everything contained therein with all its pain and suffering. Contrary to the tragic irony which was hidden in the eyes of those who participated in the Passion story, Jesus understood it as His glorification. He deliberately went up to Jerusalem in order to transform it from its pharisaical piety into a heavenly city. But it came with a price which was His precious life and there was no turning back.
It was during this somber journey that Jesus laid down the cost of discipleship through the three prospective disciples who wanted to follow Him but with their excuses: 1) Giving up all security in life 2) Detachment from everything, without delay 3) Embracing the uncertainty of the future.
It may sound daunting and very radical which separates boys from men and many of us from saints. Does it mean leaving behind families and relations, giving up careers, homelands and material possessions? Many indeed have embraced radicalism in following Jesus through their heroic lives who left everything behind in response to the call. Others live their ordinary lives in extraordinary ways and yet become catalysts of change. I am privileged to have friends whom I believe are real saints without them knowing that they are indeed living saints.
How much radicalism is required to follow Jesus? What have you given up for Jesus?To follow Jesus is a calling for all: kings and beggars, sinners and saints, young and old! It is a vocation that we continuously respond to as we strive to live the Gospel, each in our own ways. Each one has to respond generously according to the mission entrusted to him/her by God. Let us remember that the One we are following had gone up to Jerusalem and we understand what it means “to go up to Jerusalem”. In following Jesus each step is a trek towards fullness of life only if we are willing to pay the price. The price is not just those things we give up along the journey, but the treasures awaiting for us at the end.