THE DISCIPLE IS CONTENT TO RESEMBLE HIS MASTER.The idea of resembling the Lord Jesus is one that has a great appeal to all true believers. Certainly we would like very much to imitate him in his selfless dedication to the Father's plan and his self-sacrifice for the sake of all those called to enter the kingdom of God. This ambition is a noble one and we do well to cultivate it and strive to carry it through in the daily opportunities life offers us for realizing it. Nothing is more deserving of our desire and energy. In today's Gospel Jesus readies us for this great project of following in his footsteps by reminding us of just what such imitation can entail in actual practice. We must be prepared for opposition and even rejection, as was his lot.
We take up the invitation he extends to us to follow him we soon discover that it can prove to be a rather lonely way to live at times. Often enough we find that we have to search out God's will in situations that are confused so that we must grope along trusting in his guidance. We are aware of being vulnerable, knowing we cannot prove we are right to take a course that those we live with find disturbing to their settled views and ways. Our sense of peace and the inner strength we need to stay on course must derive from the persuasion we are indeed following the path he had taken and which he predicted in this very text would be one of misunderstanding and even rejection.
The Gospels make it clear that he himself encountered misunderstanding from his own neighbors and relatives; even Mary and Joseph were perplexed by his behavior, though they never doubted his person. The evangelists have brought out this failure to understand Jesus and his mssion in order to teach us what to expect as true disciples of the Lord by being content to resemble him in his sufferings. It is true that when he began his preaching and worked any number of miracles of healing he soon became popular. However, he was very much aware, that the acceptance he received was based on a superficial understanding. This proved to be the case even with the men he had chosen as intimate companions. They were unable to grasp his message of the cross and suffering unto death even though he repeatedly taught them it is the narrow way that leads to the kingdom.
Only after the resurrection, when he, as the risen Christ, established relations with his disciples on the basis of his having been raised from the dead and glorified by the Father did he find the kind of reception he sought and required of his true followers. In the Eucharist we are offering here this morning it is the same risen Lord we receive. The life he now lives in the Spirit is offered to us so that we too, like his early disciples might be transformed from fearful, timid souls to persons who courageously labor and bear witness in a world that is often indifferent and even hostile. The secret of such courage and dedication is the loving union experienced with our glorified Savior and bestowed on us in this Eucharist. Let us confidently build our lives on this foundation. Relying on the strength of his love for us may we prove ourselves day by day true followers of the Lord Jesus, content to resemble our Master in his sufferings and sorrows, as fidelity requires of us. This union with him is the source of strength and the basis of the firm hope that unites us in our expectation of sharing with him the joy of fulfillment in the kingdom of the Father.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
© Abbey of the Genesee
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