What Have I Given Up to Follow Jesus?

What Have I Given Up to Follow Jesus? May 28, 2013

I’m sort of in love with the daily opportunity to watch Pope Francis preach via Youtube. Today is no exception:

To follow Jesus means to follow His path, not for power but by our witness and service. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass. Reflecting on the Gospel of the day, the Pope said that we should not follow Jesus because it is a question of culture: “I am a Christian, I have this culture”, but out of our necessity to be true disciples of Jesus, our need to follow His path. He said if we follow Jesus in a cultural context it is because we think it is a career path, a route to power. Pope Francis noted that “the history of the Church is full of this, starting with some emperors, many rulers and many people”… Pope Francis’ homily, 5/28/13

Pope Francis challenges us today with his reflection on the words of the Gospel in Mark’s 10th chapter. Jesus reminds his followers that those who “give up” things to follow him will be repaid 100 fold. I find myself asking what — if anything — I “give up” to choose life as a Christian, a Catholic follower of Christ.

If I’m being honest, I can’t think of much at first glance. But when I stretch myself, I realize that therein lies my problem – am I one of those “cultural Christians” Pope Francis describes in his homily? Perhaps in too many ways the answer is yes. Perhaps I’ve bought into the “prosperity gospel” that has taught me that being a Christian doesn’t mean having to suffer or give up.

But if I’m being honest with myself, it’s perhaps all too true that I live my faith well within my comfort zone. I can think of at least three times over the past three days that my “witness” was compromised in situations where I didn’t want to “rock the boat” or offend. Did I “throw Jesus under the bus?” Not exactly, but I definitely held back on the truth as I know it so as not to offend the company I was with. Is being “politically correct” akin to Pope Francis’ charge of being a “cultural Christian”?

Where along my path did I lose my “need” (as Pope Francis called it) — my fervent, all holds barred desire — to stand up and witness and to be a true Christian? More than likely, my way is lost in baby steps along the crazily hectic path of day-to-day life. Small compromises, moments “let go” rather than engaged, opportunities to help someone in need squandered because they weren’t on my oh-so-orderly “to do” list.

I’ve heard my marching orders this morning from our Holy Father, and indeed from the source itself in Mark’s gospel. Hopefully I’m equipped and motivated to answer that “What have I given up to follow Jesus?” question a bit differently next time.

A question for you: What — if anything — have you given up to follow Jesus?

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  • heidisaxton

    Wow. Lisa, I don’t know what to say to this. You live every day serving God and the Church, traveling and networking with other believers in a dozen ways before breakfast. If you don’t think you’ve given up much for the kingdom …

    I think the “widow’s mite” is a bit different for each of us. And I think it’s not the size of the offering … but the humility and cheerfulness with which we make it. And in some ways, we are the only ones who can make that assessment for ourselves. I can only look into my own heart, and see if today’s offering was as joyful as it could be. Today, not so much — but thank God, tomorrow is another day.

    • lisahendey

      Heidi, thanks for your kindness. What you say in your second paragraph is so important. You’re absolutely right. And I don’t mean to be self effacing here. I just know that there are times when I find myself challenged to stand up for what’s true and right, and I fail the test. One day at a time…

  • Inge

    I’ve given up marriage and therefore the possibility of having children in order to follow Christ. In more material terms, I could have chosen a job in which I make higher-than-average wages, but instead I try to work for a Catholic non-profit making just enough to make ends meet. Not to show off, but in reality it’s not that hard to give up things, as long as you know why you do it and love doing it.

    I would not be able to do what I am currently doing being married and having the responsibility of raising children. That can be a vocation as well. A lot of my Protestant female friends are married “because that’s what you do”. Doing something because it’s the social norm doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing what God wants you to do.

    The question isn’t so much: “What do I want?”, or “What do others/parents/peers expect of me?” but “Do I create room for God to show me what He wants me to do?” The result can be a very counter-cultural life. I get often asked what I am “suppressing” just because I don’t follow the norm of being in a relationship.