Don’t count the cost

Friends in Christ, when Cortez and his men had reached Mexico, he urged his men to be brave and push into the country and fight, but they felt afraid and unsure and dreamed of returning to Spain. So Cortez burned all of their ships; he closed off the path to a return, so that they would put their heart into the job ahead.
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Our Lord today urges his followers to be prepared to give up everything in order to follow him. Often this passage is applied to the call to a priestly or a religious vocation, and rightly so: ‘He who gives up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children for my sake will receive a hundred times more – and eternal life.’ St. Luke’s gospel adds ‘a wife’ as something else to give up. So it is true, that Our Lord calls some to this renunciation literally.
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But he is speaking here to all of his followers, all of us. People who become Catholic sometimes are given a lot of hassles by their family or friends, Our Lord is saying, push on, keep going! A young girl was in our RCIA class; her mother was against her becoming Catholic, but she continued and was baptized. We must sacrifice in order to follow Jesus.
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But Christ is speaking too, about daily life. In each of our lives there is some nemesis, some weakness or fault – if we identify our primary fault, we have identified our path to heaven – fighting that fault. Every day there are things in our life that we must renounce:  bad companions, bad places, bad thoughts, – there is something that each of us must continue to say ‘no’ to, in order to follow Christ. It might be gossip, it might be impure desires, it could be greed or endless television-watching…. It could be an adulterous relationship which must be permanently destroyed. It could simply be fear, which is keeping us from taking a step we know in our life what the Lord is asking us to do.
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When I was unsure of my own vocation, I heard a Religious Sister say, ‘ Don’t count the costs.’ In other words, don’t sit and weigh benefits to this vs that, but do what the Lord wants, whatever the cost. Well this is true in even our daily struggles; we must be like Cortez who burned the ships and destroyed the path of return; as St. Paul said: ‘Forgetting what lies behind, I strain forward to what is ahead, I press on towards the goal, life on high in Christ Jesus Our Lord.’

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