All of today’s readings call us to new levels of commitment and response. The prophet Elisha succeeds Elijah. Paul reminds us about our new life in the Spirit, and Jesus instructs his would-be disciples as he himself prepares for Jerusalem.
This is a perfect selection of readings for those who have just graduated.
But hopefully everyone aspires to be constantly graduating to new levels, and surely to new levels in our journey of faith. We can always think of God and respond to God in a big way, always realizing that it’s not enough.
Today’s dialogue between Jesus and those who wish to follow him seems a bit harsh, but we have to realize how the Gospel starts. Jesus “resolutely determined” to go to Jerusalem, where, of course, he was to meet his life’s destiny.
When you are resolutely determined, you don’t have time for half-hearted efforts. That’s not because you are stubborn or impatient, but because, for example, with Jesus here, you are so committed to who you are and what you are doing, that you are not going to let future companions water that down.
And no one said discipleship would be easy, anyway. The great 20th century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a lot to say about discipleship. He reminds us that “discipleship is not an offer we make to Christ.” Most importantly, Bonhoeffer talks about the cost of discipleship — as he would later know, being executed for going against the Nazi regime — a “costly grace” in his words, because there is a price to be paid in following Jesus, but the grace is that it gives us our only true life.