Dear sisters and brothers,
There are people who have great goals in life, but they will never achieve those goals. Why not? Because they are not willing to pay the price.
There is a story about a girl called Antoinette, who was very pretty but very poor. She had only one goal in life: to be rich. Her only hope was to marry a wealthy man. But she eventually had to settle for a civil servant. He tried to make her happy but couldn’t afford the things she dreamed of –pretty dresses, jewelry, a well-furnished home, and so on.
She refused to go out to work, and spent her days in misery and despair. She complained that they never went anywhere. Once her husband got an invitation to a state banquet, but then she complained that she had nothing suitable to wear. So he took all his modest saving from the bank. With these Antoinette bought a new dress. Then she borrowed a necklace from an old school friend, Marie, to go with it.
She went to the banquet. She was the prettiest woman there and lapped up all the attention she got. However, when they arrived home in the early hour of morning, she discovered, to her horror, that the necklace was missing.
They searched high and low for it but failed to find it. She hadn’t the courage to tell Marie the truth, so they bought a one that looked exactly like the one she had lost. It cost 40,000 francs, money they had to borrow at very high rates of interest. When they gave the necklace to Marie, she never notice the difference. In fact, she stuffed it into a drawer without even looking at it.
Now Antoinette began to know what real poverty was. But she was determined to play her part in paying off their debts. They gave up their flat and moved into a basement room. They got rid of their maid. She did the housework herself and also went out to work. They scrounged and saved every penny. It took them ten years to pay back what they owed. By now Antoinette looked like an old woman. One day she ran into her friend, Marie, in the street.
“Oh, how you’ve aged!” said Marie
“I’ve been through very hard times since we last met, and all because of you,” Antoinette replied.
“Because of me? I don’t understand.”
Then she told her about losing necklace and how they had worked all those years to recover the money. On hearing this Marie said, “you mean you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?”
“Yes,” said Antoinette, “and you never noticed it.”
“Oh my! poor Antoinette!” Marie exclaimed. “Why, my necklace was only imitation. At the most it was worth 400 francs.”
If only Antoinette had been able from the beginning to put even half of that effort into what she wanted from life, it could have been hers, and she would not have wasted all those precious years. Instead, she spent her time looking out the window and dreaming.
Jesus had one great goal in life, namely, to carry out the task his Father had given him. That’s what he lived for. And he was willing to pay what every price was demanded in order to fulfill his goal. ‘The Gospel shows him headed to Jerusalem. He knew what awaited him there. Suffering, rejection and death lay at the end of that journey. Yet he willingly faced all of that.
And he expected nothing less from his disciples. He talked about the cost of discipleship. When he said they should hate father and mother, he didn’t mean that literally. He was telling them that they must be ready if needs be to sacrifice the dearest things in life. In certain (rare) circumstances they might have to choose between him and their own relatives.
By means of two short parables he pointed out that discipleship is a serious calling. It could mean persecution and even death. In this, as in any sphere of life (such as business and politics), one shouldn’t walk into it blindly. One must calculate the cost before setting out, and then see if one is ready to face it.
The goal Jesus sets before us is immediately worthwhile-the goal of an authentic way of life and eternal life hereafter. There is no higher goal than that. That doesn’t mean it is easy. No one can be a disciple without carrying the cross. But Jesus knows our frailty. He lavishes his grace to those who strive sincerely to follow him.
Peace and everything good!
Fr. Valery Burusu