Jesus teaching in this weekend’s Gospel sounds harsh. “Anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” It almost sounds like extortion. “If you don’t give me your money, you can’t be my friend.” But that isn’t who Jesus is. He isn’t making a demand. He is describing the reality of discipleship.
Being a disciple is an all or nothing affair. If we are to receive the gift of being Jesus disciple, we open ourselves totally to the reality that He is God. Jesus is the source of every blessing in our life. Everything we have, even our life itself, is His gift to us. When we accept this gift we are freed to give it away. Discipleship is accepting everything as a gift of God through Jesus, and then returning that gift, in love, to the one who gave it to us. If we try to hold on to the gift as our own possession, it starts to rot in our hands.
This famous prayer by the founder of the Jesuits is a wonderful summary of this teaching. Ignatius knew that everything he had was a gift from God and that the greatest thing he could do would be to return that gift to God, opening himself to receive the giver behind the gift. This week, make this prayer your own by praying in these or similar words:
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.
– St. Ignatius Loyola (Jesuit) 16th century
Lincoln A. Wood