I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. It's so much more than a simple assent to a group of principles and beliefs. It's more than belonging to a church community. It's more than going to mass on Sunday.
All of those things are certainly part of discpleship. They make a good foundation and they can even be the beginning stages of discipleship, but discipleship in it's truest form is founded on a living relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. As we fall in love with Jesus Christ, as we learn what the truth is and how He calls us to live out our relationship with Him, we become closer and closer discples.
Today's readings are all about living discipleship. Discipleship is hard. Disciples don't complain about the hard work the Lord is calling them into. They sacrifice themselves and their desires for the sake of the Lord. They must take up their cross and follow Him.
When we gaze into Jesus's eyes, we see that He didn't come to spare us from suffering. He came to redeem suffering. He saved the world through suffering, and He'll save you through your suffering. Suffering is inevitable. We can choose to resent Him for it, or we can choose to embrace it and suffer well by uniting our hurts to His. We can choose to seek out little sufferings for the redemption of our souls. By keeping a pebble in your shoe, or sleeping without a pillow, or not eating the things you want to eat, we deny our very selves. We tell ourselves that immediate gratification is not our reward, but our reward is to be eternal with Jesus in heaven.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization