From the Pastor – September 5, 2010

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”Â  (Lk 14:26-27).

What does it mean to be a Christian? The word was first used by St. Luke in Acts 11:26, where he recounts that: “it was at Antioch that the disciples [of Jesus] were called ”˜Christians’ for the first time.” So being a Christian means being a disciple (from the Greek word for “pupil”) of Christ.

If you read the Scriptural quote above, then Jesus has some pretty high standards for those who would choose to be His disciple. A disciple must “hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even his own life” and he must “carry his own cross and come after” Jesus. That’s pretty radical. What Jesus is saying is that nothing must keep a disciple from following Him. A disciple must be willing to give up anything or anyone that stands in the way if he is serious about following Christ.

Recently there was an article on CNN’s website about a new heresy being experienced among American teenagers. This heresy reduces Jesus to a God who simply wants teenagers “to feel good and do good” – what a Princeton professor’s study called “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Another trait of this heresy reduces the Gospel of Christ to a “gospel of niceness,” where faith is simply “doing good and not ruffling feathers.” In this type of Gospel, the Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, if not abandoned.”

Mark Twain once said: “God created man in his own image and man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” Such is the trap into which these teenagers are falling. It’s not “WWJD?” It’s “what would I do, if I were Jesus?”
On the other hand, the study also encountered many teenagers who were committed Christians. And they shared four traits. They had a personal story about God they could share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future. Now these are all good traits, but one thing is missing. It’s a recognition that the call of Christ is a “radical” call. It means that it’s from the roots of our very existence. It’s a willingness to die to the things of the world that keep one from following and even suffering for Christ. It’s extreme.

Christian discipleship is not for the faint of heart. It means a reordering of one’s life where faith in Christ becomes the determining factor by which all other thoughts, words and actions are directed. It means not allowing the world to dilute Christianity. And it means constantly examining one’s conscience to find where one is falling short. And when sin enters, it means acknowledgment of the sin, confession of the sin, and repentance from the sin.
The world as we know it is passing away. Life is short. Christ alone offers they way to Eternal Salvation. And Christianity “in name only” is an illusion.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty