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Obstacles to following Christ

“If anyone comes to me without turning his back on his father and mother, his wife and children, he cannot be my follower.”

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These words of Christ in this 23rd Sunday’s gospel sound harsh and disrespectful, especially for family-oriented Filipinos. But the Lord, in his hyperbolic way of teaching, is stressing a message. He’s saying that nothing, not even family relationships, should stand in the way of following him completely.

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The call to discipleship or the following of Christ applies not only to the religious vocation but to EVERY baptized Christian.

Jesus’ general message is that anything or anyone who is hindering the discipleship must be given up.

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What are these hindrances? One is work. Some people are so enslaved with it that they have no time for God, their family and fellowmen.

There’s one corporation manager who worked conservatively 19-20 hours a day. His whole life was his business.

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There was nothing sacred in life, except the business. Meetings might be called on Christmas eve or New Year’s Day, on Saturdays or Sundays. One day the slave-driving boss was found slumped in his office table – a victim of heart attack!

Poor guy, he ended a servant, not of people, but of money. And irony of ironies, he couldn’t take along what he slaved for when he passed away.

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Another hindrance may be a deep-rooted vice or sinful situation. There’s a story about four clergymen who were discussing confidentially about their own weaknesses.

“I’m very partial to eating sausages,” confided a Jewish Rabbi whose religion forbids eating pork. “I get through a bottle of whisky a day,” said the Protestant minister. “I have a girlfriend on the side,” said the Catholic priest.

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Then they turned to the Born Again minister and said, “What about you – surely you have a secret vice?”

“Yes,” he said, “I am a chronic gossiper.” And the three deeply regretted ever divulging their vices.

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Ask yourself: “What’s the thing that hinders me from following Christ? Is it attachment to my wealth or possessions so that I no longer think of God and people in need? Is it entanglement in illicit relation and vices?

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The answer will be different for each one of us. This is a personal, individual matter. But like in the gospel parable of the builder, the important thing is that we must have a PLAN in life which does not seek only material success but also spiritual fulfillment.

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If there is a conflict between the two, a true disciple should prefer to follow Jesus and not let family ties or work or leisure activities interfere.

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LAFF ONE ANOTHER. PARI: Ang kayamanan at pera ay maiiwan natin kapag tayo’y namatay. Walang may pera sa langit. BOY: Nadinig mo yun, Inay! Nasa langit na tayo!

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A man applying as security guard was interviewed. “What I need is a person with a suspicious mind, high alert, strong body, good sense of hearing and with killer instinct. Do you think you are qualified? “I’m afraid not. But could I ask my wife to apply?”

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My e-mail: belsvd@gmail.com (Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)

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