I was once invited to a dinner by a couple with three children. While we were having dinner, the eldest child announced that he wanted to be a priest. We all beamed with happiness. I, for myself, felt extremely honored. I asked the boy why he wanted to be a priest. He replied: “Because when the priest visits a house, the food is always good.”
Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Matthew has something similar to that story. Before the scribe volunteered to follow the Lord, he had seen the Lord curing a leper, calming the storm, raising the dead to life, and all the wonders that the Lord was doing. The scribe said to himself, “This is something. I will follow Him because everybody applauds him, everybody appreciates him, everybody says that he is a good man. I will follow Him.”
Fortunately, the Lord had presence of mind and told the scribe, “You want to follow me because you see the wonders that I do. You should follow me because you are ready to sacrifice.”
I did not say the same thing to the misguided boy. I thought he was too young to be able to fully understand that the priesthood is sacrifice. But most of you who are here are no longer too young to understand that discipleship calls for sacrifice.
Let us look back to that occasion when we first decided that we would go to Mass as frequently as possible; that we would pray the Rosary; that we would spend time at the perpetual adoration chapel.
Yes, let us look back to that time. In all probability, you made the decision to be faithful to the Lord because you felt a certain feeling of religious high. You felt comfort. You felt peace. You felt joy. And then you said, “I will follow the Lord!” Now the joys have begun to disappear. Distractions enter into your prayer. Temptations have become stronger than before. You feel misunderstood. You feel that troubles in the family persist no matter how much prayer you offer to God.
Let me tell you that these are the times for real decision making, if you really want to follow the Lord. It is not when the food is good, not when everything is comfortable, not when everybody is applauding. The time to decide to follow the Lord is when everything is difficult, when you are misunderstood, when you are condemned, when you are ridiculed. And if, despite all these, you still decide to follow the Lord, that is commitment.
Where there is sacrifice, there is love. Where there is love, the Lord is always there. We all have to face that point in our lives when we have to decide if we are for or against the Lord. I pray for you. That when the trials come into your life, when trials become too heavy to bear, when the cross becomes impossible to carry, you may still decide, in spite of it all, “I have decided to follow the Lord and I will follow Him until the last breath of my life.”
COME DIE WITH ME
Only Jesus, Always Jesus