Sharing Before Vespers at the Main Chapel
Bro. Kevin Joshua Cosme
September 8, 2019
I hope most of you have seen the movie “Avengers: Infinity War” because I’m about to drop some spoilers. In the closing scenes of the film, Thanos has successfully collected the infinity stones, and the Avengers fail to stop him in time. He snaps his fingers, and just as achieves his goal to wipe out half of all life in the universe, an unusual scene occurs. He wakes up in the Soul Realm and meets his adopted daughter Gramora, but she is a child. She asks him, “Did you do it?” And he says, “Yes.” She asks, “What did it cost?” And Thanos answers, “Everything.”
It cost Thanos everything to achieve his goal, even the life of that very daughter he had to push off a cliff in order to get the soul gem. For all the madness of the Mad Titan, you’ve got to hand it to him – he knows what commitment is about, and he’s willing to see things through to the end, no matter the sacrifice, no matter the cost.
Our gospel this Sunday speaks rather bluntly of the costs of discipleship. Jesus does not mince his words. “Whoever does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life” cannot be his disciple. The commentary in the Jerusalem Bible says that this is a Hebraism. Jesus does not mean literal hate but total detachment. If he had intended that we actually despise our parents, he would not have affirmed the value of honoring your father and mother in his conversation with the rich young man elsewhere in the gospels.
So Jesus demands total detachment. This is one of those gospel precepts that’s good to hear and often taken for granted but notoriously difficult to carry out. It’s easy to say in a spur of fervor, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you!” or to sing the wonderful words, “Take, and receive, O Lord, my liberty, my will, my mind, my memory.” So easy, until Jesus takes your word for it and actually asks to take something valuable from you. Question is, will you give it to him?
In my PSIY, I conceived a dream. I wanted to be a missionary, or at least because I was passionate about languages, I thought that maybe God was calling me to become a missionary priest. I pondered on this for many months and brought it before the Lord in my 30 day retreat. Now, I’m not an ambitious person and I barely dream about my future, but when I conceived this dream rather late in my seminary formation and was filled with excitement because of it, I felt like Abraham who finally had a son in his old age. But the way my retreat turned out was akin to God asking Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. I only became willing to do something that crazy because, after 30 days of suffering and tough love from God, I learned that my relationship with Him took priority over everything else, even my vocation or my greatest aspirations. In short, I became willing to sacrifice anything because I had learned to love Him.
It didn’t make the sacrifice any easier though. I spent much time and ink discerning His will, and when it was time for me to make the choice, I chose the way of sacrifice. But instead of writing with ink, my journal was stained with tears. One big teardrop after another fell on its open pages because I found myself weeping bitterly in the oratory. Such was the pain of sacrifice. Such was the cost of discipleship.
Dear brothers, it is impossible to become a disciple of Jesus unless you make the deliberate choice to follow him. As in the gospel, this means actually taking time to think about what you’re getting yourself into and to plan things out so that you won’t end up like the architect who couldn’t finish what he started or the king who picked a fight he couldn’t win. Make the choice for Jesus. Choose deliberately to be his disciple, because it is perfectly possible to finish your seminary formation just by going through the motions. Just because we’re in the seminary, hearing mass every day and reciting our prayers, doesn’t immediately imply that we’ve already chosen to become disciples of Jesus. Remember Jesus’ warning: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does my Father’s will.”
In closing, let us speak of our dear Mama Mary, the model of perfect detachment and discipleship. Although today is her birthday and her birthday is a feast, the Sunday solemnity still supersedes it. But I don’t think Mama Mary is the least bit offended. In fact, I believe she’s happy to give way to Jesus because she puts Jesus above all else, and she teaches us to do the same. What did it cost her to be a disciple? Everything, including Jesus himself. She was able to do this because she first welcomed God’s great love for her, and she responded with all her heart.
Happy birthday, Mama Mary. Help us to become true disciples of Jesus like you.
about the author
Bro. Kevin Joshua Cosme is a fourth year student of San Carlos Seminary at Guadalupe, Makati City. He is from the Diocese of Parañaque.