(Luke 14:25-33) Many years ago, there was a movie that came out called “The Right Stuff,” which told the story of the test pilots and astronauts involved in Project Mercury, the first manned spaceflight by the United States. As the title implies, the job wasn’t for everyone but required qualities such as physical and mental strength, courage, discipline, and determination to undertake such a task. As with all those who enter into such new and dangerous territory, the men needed a real sense of adventure – even a willingness to risk their lives. Yet it was a calculated risk. They knew what was at stake, but they also understood the incredible opportunity that lay before them – the chance to do something great. They had the “right stuff.”
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus describes what it takes to be a disciple, one of His followers. It’s a job that’s open to all but not one that everyone is ready or willing to take on. Most importantly, it requires putting God first in our lives. Does He really want us to hate our friends and loved ones? Of course not! But Jesus knows it’s that singleness of heart and mind – being intimately connected to God, the source of all grace and power – that’s necessary to persevere in the Christian life. After all, the way we love and serve God best is by loving and serving others.
Giving God the first place means that He leads and we follow. Our Lord not only humbled himself to become one of us, but He also suffered and died for us. As His disciples, we must humbly submit our life into His care and die to our self-serving ways. Being a follower of Christ is not without risks. We may at times be seen as foolish or weak (or worse!), which is why Jesus suggests that we carefully consider before accepting His invitation. We must be willing to endure trials and suffering for the sake of His name. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:27).
The word that really sums up the requirements of discipleship is sacrifice, which – when you get down to it – is the essence of love. Here lies the paradox of the Christian life: to do something great, you must become insignificant; to grow in love, you must give it all away. So when you think about it, the question really isn’t, “Do you have the right stuff?” It’s rather, “What are you going to do with it?”
– Kelley Holy