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Oct 2, 2007

Following Jesus:

When we hear the gospel I am sure, are astounded at how

harsh Jesus sounds. "You can't be my disciples if don't hate

your mother, your father, your spouse, your children. You

can't be my disciple." What is happening? Well remember.

Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. He's about to be handed

over to his enemies. He is going to be tortured. He is going

to be executed. He is a dead man walking.

Yet here is this crowd still looking for signs and marvelous

things. They're having a good time. They're not serious.

They have not really listened. They think they are following

Jesus, but they haven't really figured out what it might

cost to be a disciple of Jesus.

How many of us are that way? Have we really taken the time

to consider what it might mean to follow Jesus? How

different we might have to be from those in the world around

us? If we are really going to be a disciple of Jesus, can we

really be just like everyone else? Or what might we have to

pay a price?

Back in World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a great German

theologian and Protestant minister, was in the resistance

against Hitler. He was jailed. During the time in jail he

wrote a book called the Cost of Discipleship. For him the

cost was execution, because he stood up against powers of

evil. Again have we considered the cost for ourselves to

really be a disciple of Jesus?

St. Paul in the second lesson today gives us a radical

vision of what it means to follow Jesus. We don't know what

cost Philemon might have had to pay, because we never hear a

response to this letter from Paul. There probably was one,

but it has never been kept, preserved. But Paul was asking

Philemon to do something totally out of the ordinary. Roman

law required that a run away slave had to be punished, even

executed. Paul was sending Onesimus back and saying, "Look

everything is different. Jesus has come. Jesus has made us

all brothers and sisters. There can't be slave or free, male

or female, rich or poor. We are all one in Jesus. So you

must treat Onesimus different now. Go against the law. Free

this person. He is your brother in Jesus."

That is the radical vision Jesus gives us, that we are all

brothers and sisters. One human family. We cannot hate one

another. We cannot do violence to one another.

St. Peter Claver was an extraordinary example of this. He

lived in a time when our very own church condoned slavery.

It's hard to believe in a way, but we know it is true. It

happened in this country. Bishops owned slaves. Peter Claver

lived in a time when that was very common. In fact, Africans

were being brought over to Colombia were Peter Claver went

to be a missionary. He ministered among them. He couldn't

break the whole slave trade, but he went among the salves

and he said, "I will be a slave to the slaves. They are my

brothers and sisters." He was demonstrating the vision of

Jesus. He gave his life in total service to the slaves.

When we think about what is happening in our country right

now - it's not hard to discern how we might have to be

different, because we are living in time when our nation has

been engaged in a war since 1991 really. We have devastated

another country. We have killed hundreds of thousands of

innocent civilian people. Pushed two million into exile.

Destroyed their whole infrastructure. Caused suffering that

is beyond comprehension. Now we are going to get a report

before our Congress that is going to tell us, "Keep on

going. Wage more war." And the president is going to address

us this week and tell us that we have to persevere in war,

in violence.

Is that the way of Jesus? Is that the vision of Jesus?

Certainly not.

Martin Luther King Jr. showed us a totally different vision,

which is the real vision of Jesus. We have to strive for

peace within ourselves, seeking to be a peacemaker in our

daily lives. We have to accept suffering rather than inflict

suffering. How often he preached that. We have to refuse to

retaliate in the face of provocation and violence. We must

return love for violence, love for hatred. Dr. King paid a

high price because he followed Jesus. He spoke out against

the advice of his closest friends and colleagues. He said,

"I must condemn the greatest purveyor of violence in the

world today, my own government."

It seems to me that this time in which we live it is ever

more clear that we must follow the way of Dr. King, which is

really the way of Jesus. A new vision, an extraordinary

vision. We are all brothers and sisters in the human family.

We must reach out in love to one another and in forgiveness.

Love even our enemies, return good for evil. That is the

vision, the vision of Jesus. Paul preached it to Philemon.

Paul is preaching it to us.

Jesus shows us the way. He invites us, come follow me. But

sit down first and think about what it might cost. Don't be

like the builder who doesn't make those plans or like the

king going into battle without knowing what will happen. No.

Count the cost.

Then if you are ready to pay the price, if you're ready to

pay the price it takes to follow Jesus, then this morning,

once more as we celebrate this Eucharist, recommit yourself.

When you come forward to receive the body of Christ and you

say, "Amen," that should be a commitment to follow Jesus.

Take up your cross and follow him no matter what the cost.

Can we do it? Well perhaps among many others we can pray

this morning to St. Peter Claver, Martin Luther King, Nelson

Mandela, others who have shown us the way and we too will

have the courage to count the costs and say yes I will pay

that price. I will follow Jesus. His way of love. Rejecting

all violence, all war. Follow only Jesus.

+Bishop Gumbleton

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Tuesday October 2, 2007, 1:30 am
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Bobbie P. (15)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 6:24 pm
I believe that one should realize that there is a price we pay for following Jesus, but the reward for doing so is well worth the price we pay; eternal life. Eternal life free of pain and sickness, a body made "whole" and perfect. A life without violence, loneliness, abuse and fear. A life filled with unimaginable happiness in a world of beauty as God intended when he created earth in the beginning. The price we may pay here on earth consisting of scorn, laughter, disbelief, imprisonment and yes even death, is nothing compared to the price Jesus paid after having lived a "sinless" life in order to save ours.
I would like to add that there were many other good men and women of this world before and after Christ who have tried to show us the way we should live in Christ by their example besides St. Peter Claver, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela and it would be nice if their names too were remembered. The one thing I disagree with in this blog is the remark "we can pray this morning to St. Peter Claver, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, others who have shown us the way". I must say Bishop Gumbleton that I don't believe we as Christians are to pray to anyone but God in the name of Jesus the Christ.

Michael Sandstrom (306)
Saturday October 27, 2007, 4:02 am
Thank you Bobbie, you are correct of course!


Michael Sandstrom
male, age 62, committed relationship, 2 children
Greeneville, TN, USA
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