Decisions in life are full of consequences. When we say our “yes” to a certain decision, we need to mean it. But, there’s an undeniable fact that we need to consider in our life. As we decide or follow a certain decision in life, sometimes we complain because we expect that what we have decided or followed has less worries, sacrifices, and sufferings. We see to it that once we decide or follow a certain decisions in life there should be an avenue for us to run away from pain and suffering. Today’s readings and the gospel for this Sunday actually exhort us to respond joyfully to every decision and invitation that God is giving and presenting to us despite the demands and sufferings that we will encounter along the way and regardless of the cost. Actually, the readings and the gospel for today do not highlight suffering in itself; rather it gives us an example on how to remain faithful as Christ’s disciples of this generation despite the fact that suffering is inevitable. In the gospel, Jesus shows to us the other side of what it means to be His disciple: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” At first, I find it demanding and burdensome relating it to my situation right now as a religious brother who is aspiring to become a priest someday. Prophet Jeremiah is right in saying these words, “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped”. It’s not so easy to be a disciple of Christ. It takes a lot of patience, endurance, and fidelity in order that I may be able to commit myself with the Lord’s invitation every day. To be honest, I always fail in really doing my best to be committed with the Lord because I admit that I am also too human capable of committing failures and shortcomings. But, I never give up. Even though that fidelity to His call is also a test on how I may be able to withstand sufferings and persecutions, I still believe that there’s joy in it. The only consolation that I gain despite the fact that discipleship is a demanding job is He himself. This is what I noticed as I let myself be duped by God’s invitation; the more I patiently endure the cost of discipleship in the midst of trials, challenges, difficulties, pains, and sufferings, the more I see the transformation within my life and the more I feel the immensity of joy within my heart. Yes, now I realize that St. Paul is correct in saying this as we strive faithfully to our calling or decisions whatever that calling or decisions may be: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect”.
As we continue to reflect upon the readings and the gospel for today, let us pray to the Father that He may always grant us strength and inspiration as we do our best to become a faithful follower to His call regardless of the cost. Let us continue to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters and even other religious minorities in Iraq that they may be able to find consolation in God. For me, they are the best example on how to be an authentic disciple of Christ that in spite of persecutions and sufferings they are experiencing and enduring, they still remain steadfast in their faith and in their hope that one day everything will be okay with the help of God.