So what does Jesus Christ ask of us? What does it mean to be a real disciple? In Matthew 19, a young man with many worldly possessions addresses this question to Jesus himself. The answer given is that one must sell all they have and give the proceeds away to the poor. In Matthew 16, Jesus confronts those who are following him, questioning them about a man who chooses to cling to the world, and then in turn, loses his soul. What has the man gained? He says that if someone would choose to follow Him, he must deny himself and carry his cross.
Some will say that this mature discipleship is too tough for many to swallow. They will say that it can turn people off and that few will ever be able to achieve the life that Jesus is talking about. We can easily forget that the man who asked the question in Matthew 19 did not choose to follow Jesus. Instead, he went away saddened. Yes, the words of Jesus are not easy to swallow.
However, we cannot change Jesus’ words and we cannot pretend that simply doing some good deeds fulfills His demand. In our modern times, we have fallen into the trap that says holiness in this life is impossible. We claim that we cannot all live our lives like Mother Teresa. Saints are people that we honor and read about in books. Surely we cannot be just like them!
But that is exactly what we are called to do. The Good News is through grace and mercy we can all become saints. That is perhaps what the man who walked away sad missed. The One who presented such a daunting request is exactly the same One who could have helped the man fulfill it. Our world needs more men and women willing to give it all away and carry their crosses. This is how the Good News will be heard by all of creation. This is how fear and pain will be replaced by joy and love.
It is not easy to respond to the call of Jesus. In fact, it is impossible. But that is why God became man in the first place. With Him and through Him, all things are possible.