Life is full of situations where we reach the point of no return. For instance, if a person decides to become a farmer then they must continually farm the land. One of the biggest situations in life is looking after a child. From the moment the child is conceived there is an accompanying commitment by the parents to look after and protect the child throughout the course of the child’s life.
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus continues to journey with his disciples to Jerusalem. There he will suffer death on the cross. He has reached the point of no return. There can be no turning back if he is to complete his mission which was entrusted to him by his Father. Along this journey he has been teaching his followers what it means to be a disciple. The words that Jesus uses in today’s Gospel are drastic. He says that unless one hates father, mother, wife, husband, sister or brother then one cannot be his disciple. It sounds like Jesus is anti-family. However, these words are not to be taken literally. Jesus makes an exaggerated point to emphasise that for us once we decide to take on the name of Christian there is a point of no return. We decide to put God first. Jesus goes on to say this choice will cost us.
In some countries around the world the cost of being a Christian is losing the opportunity to advance in one’s job. In others it can even mean risking one’s life. In Australia where we are free to practice our faith the cost we might have to pay is encountering indifference to our beliefs, even by those closest to us. Once we decide to take on the name of Christian there are decisions already made that we cannot go back on. For example, when faced with a choice of forgiving someone who wrongs us or holding a grudge, the follower of Christ must make the choice to forgive. When faced with a choice of loving someone or resenting them, the true follower of Christ has already made the choice to love. This is what placing God first means.
The goal which Jesus sets us is immensely worthwhile. It is the only one which, in the long run, does full justice to us – the goal of an authentic way of life with one’s eyes on the eternal life to come. There are also rewards in our present life. In this case it is the reward of inner peace as a result of trying to live an integrated life. However, in order to achieve this, an acceptance is required on our part that there is a point of no return in the demands that being a Christian entail.