I like discounts, sales and bargains. I know the location of every Chinese buffet restaurant in the area and I think the Dollar Store is the greatest invention since sliced bread. I like to think that if I can get things at a discounted price, then I had the fair value of my money.
Such is not the case with what Jesus is talking about in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. Because heaven is not a bargain, there are some prices that are already set and can never be changed.
He addressed his disciples that if they would like to follow him, they have to brace themselves for a long fight. Jesus shared with them by using two examples: the tower that was not finished and the war that was not well-planned. For any project, any building, any construction to be completed, the cost of constructing it should be well calculated and set out. And to avoid war and give peace a chance, dialogue and communication is important between nations.
The cost of following Jesus means having some relationship changes in our lives. Because to follow him means to give up some thing we value most, because to follow him means to surrender some persons we love dearly, because to follow him means to sacrifice and to let go.
God was talking with Adam. He said, “You really need a helper, don’t you?” And Adam answered, “Yeah, I really do.” So God said, “What if I make a woman? She’ll be perfect for you. She’ll be beautiful. She’ll rub your back at night, and your feet in the morning. She’ll plop grapes into your mouth. She’ll prepare all your favorite meals without fail. She’ll clean up the kitchen and take care of the kids. You’ll never have to do a thing, just sit around and be the king of your household.” Adam said, “Boy, that sounds great, but how much is this going to cost?” God said, “Well, it’s pretty expensive. It will cost you an arm and a leg.” Adam thought for a moment and then asked, “What can I get for a rib?” And the rest is history, as they say.
How much does it really cost to follow Jesus? It costs courage because sometimes you are going to have to stand by what is right. It costs being upset because you are laughed at because you are a Catholic and you are different. It costs being ridiculed because you are standing up to your beliefs and principles. It costs crying some nights because you have to let go of somebody you love.
Giving Jesus priority over our personal relationships can be difficult. Giving Jesus priority over our personal desires can be hard. Giving Jesus priority over our personal values can be very challenging.
The journey to heaven will cost us. There is no free ride in following our Lord. And therefore it is a question now of giving and counting the cost. Do we give what we do not want? Or do we give what we no longer need? Do we give from what we get or do we wish we should get more from what we give?
There cannot be anything more tragic than an unfinished life, a life that started great, but was never brought to completion. We were all brought up Catholic. We have done our sacraments. There cannot be anything more tragic in our lives if we do not end up with God who created us.
If we want to be there in God’s kingdom, there are some things we have to let go and offer. If we want to be there in God’s kingdom, there are some things we have to part with and surrender. There are no discounts and sales in heaven for it has its own price. Jesus already paid his part. What and how much will it cost for us?
9 September 2007