Engaged Suffering of Discipleship – Can you drink of this Cup?

The tears of a Father for His only Son splash over us today as the cup of salvation is poured out. In the ringing silence of this moment we find ourselves asking, “Can I drink of this cup?” Can I become this man’s disciple?

Today the cross fascinates the curious. What does the crucifixion mean? Jesus is not on show here. We do not watch him die. He beckons us to die with him. Julian of Norwich says He invites us onto the Cross to be scourged and nailed by the angry and Godless who have been blinded and deafened by the world.

God chose the cross because it fulfills his expectation for the Son of Man. Death on the Cross means to suffer and to die as someone rejected and expelled, as was He by the people He came to save: the People He loves.

To become his disciple is to make a commitment to this person now hanging from a tree, this man who is scourged and pierced; this person who today, all over the world suffers because God loves Him.

Be warned, this commitment places the disciple under the law of Christ which is complete self-sacrificing love. Make no mistake everything depends on your decision to “take up your cross and follow me.”

Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus’ death and puts his own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. There will be risks; there will be a leaving of comfort zones and individual conveniences. The cross, after all is not a horrible end to a pious life but rather the beginning of community with Jesus. Being alone in this community will be difficult because we never do anything outside communion. Every call of Christ leads to death.

The wounds that will be struck here, and the scars every Christian receives from the struggle, are living signs of the community of the cross with Jesus. Nor does the disciple suffer alone. They gather, as the Church gathers, to receive the blows and the insults of a world of stone throwers, a world of the lost and unguided.

The communal history of the Church is filled with martyrdom. Our discipleship, should we choose to accept it, will be today tomorrow and always for Christ, who gave his body into the hands of those who live in darkness without the light.

If disciples choose to accept their baptism, it means they no longer accept the self. It means seeing only Jesus, who goes ahead of all of us increasing the Truth by decreasing the darkness of sin.

How does a disciple know the cross, come to recognize it in the community of Jesus? They encounter it in the surrender of their will to God’s, in their struggle to perfect the virtues, in their shared ‘agonia’ on Calvary, and in their individual and communal martyrdom.

If the disciple is willing to become a member of this ‘community of burnt men,’ then they will risk the joy of scourging and hanging on the cross. Yes my friends, Christians are in deed ‘signs of contradiction’ in the world, they are ‘salt for the earth,’ they enhance the flavor of God’s holy Word in a complacent world.

Their only sorrow comes from being ashamed of Jesus and taking offense at his rejection. Read the history of the Christian life and you will encounter men, women and even children who amid horrific torment experience the most extreme joy!

“Let this cup pass from me? No, let the disciple drink of this cup completely for this is the reason Jesus came into this world: to glorify God.

But, “can you drink the cup?”

It is a life commitment not so unfamiliar to the world. Once committed, we will hear a voice; gently but firmly cry out, “BE NOT AFRAID, CAST YOUR NETS OUT INTO THE DEEP FOR A CATCH.” Today we meet Jesus at the point of death. Jesus will not allow us to stagnate here. He will not allow the salt of the earth to loose its flavor.

Here in King of Prussia, we are becoming a community that embraces the true dignity of the person and will always seek the integral conversion of everyone to Christ through correct catechesis, prayer and the seven sacraments.

We stretch out our arms, now as always, to embrace humanity and to lift it up to hear the Word of God proclaimed and lived! We are being sent from the Cross to free hearts to encounter, as we will, the true joy of being a member of God’s holy family.

This joy we share is a vivid reminder that obedience to the Cross makes our Catholic Church bold in its proclamation of forgiveness, audacious in our compassion for the sick and courageous in our search for the alienated, the despised and the poor. Christ is alive and we need not be afraid to say it and live like we really believe it!

As a parish, let us choose discipleship. Let us together embrace the Cross and as individuals obedient to His will, let us follow where he leads, and at the same time, recognize that we too are being followed by a God who seeks us out, who desires to find us and hold us dear.

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, we are never alone. We do not walk Calvary as strangers. We walk the Hill with Jesus; hand in hand; he leads us there, until in the end it is not you, or me nor any human being, nor any creature under heaven, but rather only Christ, who cries out to us today from the Cross, “Come, follow me!”