In our Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus pretty efficiently upsets the disciples’ expectations—not only for what kind of Messiah He will be, but also regarding precisely what the life of discipleship entails. The expectation of the day was that the Christ (which, as of last week’s Gospel, we’ ve established is Jesus!)
would be swift in bringing glory back to Israel, most likely through military conquest or kingly rule; yet we learn that Jesus is the King who suffers in order to bring glory to His people. The path of discipleship will thus be a far cry from kicking back and enjoying the royal court! Rather, it will bring no shortage of crosses, difficulties, denials, and losses. But what profit lies in store for those who takes seriously the call.
Bishop Robert Barron, in his book The Strangest Way, illustrates a three-fold path to the life of discipleship: finding the center, knowing you’ re a sinner, and realizing your life is not about you. I highly recommend the book to those who are curious, but what always comes to mind when I think of the “call of the Gospel” is the third point: realizing that my life, no matter how much I try to make it so, is simply not about me.
It’s a reality that we are called to live every day, even though there are many days when it seems the cost is just too high. We fight a tendency within ourselves—call it fallen human nature—to make my life more convenient, to make my bank accounts larger, to minimize my losses and maximize my gains.
But our souls were made for more. Whether we like it or not, our souls are programmed with Gospel logic, and not the logic that the world offers us. The best way out of this life, simply put, is to give it all away, to live life not for your sake but for others and for God. Jesus calls us to embrace our crosses, to “lose our lives,” not because He wants us to be unhappy or to struggle through life, but because He knows that our greatest glory comes in laying it down, in forfeiting the world to gain paradise.
On that note, I want to share how astounded I have been by the generous responses to our project to air condition the school. In a single week, we have managed to raise nearly all the money to accomplish our goal, and we are now considering what we might do with the overflow funds! In addition to continuing to fund the operational costs of the school, we are looking at the possibility of using any extra contributions to upgrade the internet on our campus to fiber optics.
Talk about good stewardship! This past week, our parish office and school has been absolutely abuzz with excitement. With both this and the improvements to the rectory, I have seen such profound generosity and selflessness (your previous pastors warned me about that!), and I am honestly humbled and excited to be a part of our parish! The Spirit is moving, and I hope that you can feel it too. There is a real sense of ownership, a Gospel selflessness, and a community that I sense here—and it shows me that this is, and I pray will continue to become more and more, a truly vibrant parish.
As you know (and have seen in the financial report that was in the bulletin a couple weeks ago), last fiscal year was a very hard year for us. We faced a very large shortfall from the cancellation of our fundraisers and already in just under two months, our year-to-date collection deficit is almost $31,000. As the Spirit urges us onward, I pray that you would discern how the Lord might be calling you to “give it all away” and embrace more deeply our call to be stewards of this beautiful parish. I once heard someone say, “The Lord asks us to give our 10%. Thankfully, He allows us to keep the rest.” How true!
He asks for all, only to return as a gift so much of what we thought we had given away.
There are good things happening in our parish! I can’t wait to be front and center to what He has in store for us next.
Keep spreading joy!