The Gospel reading from the Mass for Wednesday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 14:25-33.

While there is a growing multitude following Christ, attracted by His preaching and miracles, He now challenges those following Him with the cost of discipleship to separate the curious from the committed. The Mediterranean/Jewish culture of the 1st century (and even today) valued family/kin bonds above almost all else. Christ’s emphatic revelation that disciples must “hate” (idiomatic term meaning “to love less”) family is startling. Elsewhere (Matt 10:37), Christ reveals that those who love family members more than Him are “not worthy of Me.” Also startling is Christ’s call for men to pick up their cross, a familiar instrument of gruesome death used by the Romans, if they are to be His disciples.

Christ emphasizes the need for prudence in making a decision to be a disciple, warning that shame and humiliation will come to those who fail as disciples. Drawing from His experience as a carpenter, Christ notes that someone who attempts to build a tower but runs out of funds  after only the foundation is completed is mocked; a disciple must be prepared to bear the full cost of discipleship (the loss of family, the pain and persistence of carrying one’s cross). Christ uses a military example of how a king who is contemplating war with an inadequate army must beg for peace or be destroyed; a disciple must weigh the heavy costs (and eternal benefits!) of discipleship before following Christ.

Summing up, Christ sets the bar exceptionally high: “…whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” A man must both understand the cost of discipleship and be willing to pay it; there is no other way to be a disciple except by an informed and complete commitment.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ challenges would-be followers with exceptionally high expectations, realizing that many will not be willing to pay the price of discipleship. Divine King, Christ uses strong masculine references that have a particular appeal to men (men were the predominate victims of crucifixion; building a tower, entering combat). Divine Prophet, Christ exhorts disciples to “pick up their cross” in sacrifice and foresees the harsh family divisions that will occur as some reject the Gospel. Divine Judge, Christ has high expectations of sacrifice for those He calls worthy and who will rewarded and saved.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ demands complete commitment, even unto death, of His disciples. Reflect on how Christ’s use extreme masculine examples of the cost of discipleship to “separate the men from the boys.”

2) Many men do not realize that lukewarm faith is worth little; Christ demands the full commitment of His disciples, to the point of being willing to embrace the sacrifice of “the cross”. Reflect on the need for Disciples to follow the Way of the Cross (CCC 1344, 1435, 1816, 2015, 2233, 2427, 2470, 2669, ) and pray for Christ to help you be willing to sacrifice everything for Him.

3) While be willing to die for Christ is the ultimate sacrifice of a disciple (John 15:13), men can start with the concrete commitment to take steps to eradicate vices (defect, offense, moral vault) in their life (pornography, overeating, excessive media consumption,etc.). Consider the damaging effects of The Proliferation of Sin (CCC 1865-1876) and pray for Christ to help you repent from your most common vice and to grow in virtue and holiness.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – Saint Joseph

Virtue of the Day – Temperance

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the imprisoned

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To comfort the sorrowful