In the first reading we have “the reluctant prophet” Jerimiah who, when God calls him to speak a prophetic word to the people, responds with “truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy”.
Jerimiah eventually finds his voice but it almost costs him his life when his prophecy leads to his being thrown into a cistern to die.
Then in the second reading St. Paul reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses but there is a race that lies ahead of us and that running that race may cost us our lives. But we nonetheless are called by our discipleship to “run the race.” That is, to actively live out our discipleship by our daily way of life.
And in the Gospel, Jesus recognizes that not everyone who has heard his word or seen his miracles will believe in him. Jesus also recognizes that faith in him will be the source of division on all levels, both communal and familial.
And yet his zeal and excitement for preaching the Reign of God is like a blazing fire already setting the world afire!
Jesus knows that discipleship comes at a cost! A cost that he wants his disciples to understand. He wants them to understand just what they may have to pay for their discipleship.
Putting our discipleship into action and standing against unjust political policies that hurt the immigrant, the poor or the marginalized may get us labeled unpatriotic. Questioning the ethics behind a particular practice at our work place may get us labeled difficult or insubordinate. Standing up to a bully at school on behalf of another may get us labeled all kinds of nasty things meant to shun us.
Standing up and demanding racial justice and calling for an end to all forms of bigotry, misogyny and an end to the intolerance and rejection of immigrants and refugees, standing with the chronically underemployed, with Muslims and people of other faiths and with the LGBTQ+ community…standing up for the rights of others may get us called unpatriotic but it is clearly living out the call of the Gospel, living out Jesus’ call to discipleship!
Answering God’s call to be prophets in the midst of a self-centered and angry world is a tall order, but God does not ask of us that which we cannot do!
Living our discipleship, following God’s call is no easier for us that it was for Jerimiah or for Paul. We need to remember that we do not run the race alone but that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and filled with the very presence of the Risen Christ…thus we are able to set the world ablaze by manifesting the Reign of God by what we say and do! What is the cost of my discipleship? How will I show forth my discipleship this week?