Becoming a Disciple Week 4: Consistency

(Homily for Thirteenth Ordinary Sunday Year C)

Message: As disciples of Jesus, we want consistency in teaching and actions: Showing up. Being there.

This month we have tried to face a fundamental question: Why does St. Mary of the Valley exist? In our vision statement we gave this answer: St. Mary of the Valley exists to lift up Jesus. From that basic purpose flow two other priorities: To love others and to make disciples.

I sent a Flocknote* that underscores the need for disciples and disciple makers. At our Priest Days Archbishop Sartain asked us to concentrate on forming missionary disciples, that is disciples who make other disciples. OK, but what is a disciple anyway?

Well, in the homilies this month and next I am focusing what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. So far we have seen three main points:

1) Discipleship begins with God's work. To a person who feels discouraged, hopeless, even dead, Jesus can say: "Young man, I tell you, arise!"

2) By discipleship God calls us to greatness and we have no excuse for not responding. If God can forgive and restore David - who sunk so low - he can do the same for you and me. We have no excuse for not responding.

3) By overcoming your reluctance and taking the step of discipleship, you will realize your full potential. Right now you may feel limited but Jesus contains the fullness of reality. Beyond Jew and Greek, male and female, in Jesus - and in Jesus alone - will we find perfect freedom.

I hope that sounds appealing because today we see the hard part. To follow Jesus means he has to be more important to us than any human consideration. We see that in today's Gospel. Some of it might shock you. Jesus says to a man, "Follow me." The man asks time to bury his dad. Jesus replies, "Let the dead bury their dead..." Then Jesus underscores the urgency of following him. A man wants to say goodbye to his family. Jesus says, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

To be a disciple means to place one's hand to the plow and not look back. I've been a priest 44 years and I've seen many people start out with enthusiasm and then fall away. Sometimes they will begin by announcing the great things they are going to do, but then fall away. Instead of keeping their hand to the plow, when they meet an obstacle or disappointment, they start looking back.

An essential part of being a disciple is consistency. Showing up. Do you remember last week when Jesus spoke about taking up one's cross daily? Each morning we have to make a new beginning. That's why prayer is so important. I've often asked you to give at least 20 minutes a day to prayer. For most morning is the best time. If you can't give 20 minutes at least make a short offering of your day to God. Consistency, showing up, is what counts.

We can see that in other relationships. Some of the guys here have read "For Men Only." Based on surveys, studies and in-depth interviews, it helps us men understand something of the inner lives of women. One survey question asked women whether they would prefer financial security or emotional security. Here's the exact question: "If you had to choose between two bad choices would you rather endure financial insecurity or struggles arising from insecurity or lack of closeness in your relationship?" By over two to one they say they would rather endure financial insecurity.

Many men feel their primary responsibility is to provide financial security, but most women do not see it that way. What they want is emotional security. Being there. Showing up. Consistency. They add that "itís more important to have him around and emotionally close - both for me and the kids" - even if it meant taking a lower paying job.

There's probably no huge surprise in this. Being there, showing up, consistency. Not rigidity but integrity and coherence. That's what matters in our most important relationships: marriage, family and, above all, discipleship.

One final thing about consistency. As disciples we want consistency in our teaching. We don't want to say one thing today and contradict it tomorrow. For that reason our vision statement says, "We are Christian in union with Pope Francis and Archbishop Sartain..." It's not so much they are good men - they are - but because they assure that our teachings stay rooted in the Apostles. This Wednesday we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Pope Francis is the 266th successor of Peter. And Archbishop Sartain, the local successor of the Apostles. Have you noticed that in every Mass we pray for the pope and for our local bishop? In the present case Pope Francis and Archbishop Peter Sartain.

As disciples of Jesus, we want consistency in teaching and actions: Showing up. Being there. Lord Jesus help me to become your disciple - to place my hand to the plow and not look back. Amen.

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Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Thirteenth Sunday, Year C):

2013: For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free
2010: Celibacy vs. Not Getting Married
2007: True Freedom
2004: Two Approaches to Jesus
2001: The Paradox of Jesus
1998: Don't Look Back

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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