Memorial of St. Jerome, priest
(Nehemiah 2:1-8; Luke 9:57-62)
Howsoever modern times may have diluted the Catholic faith, they have made the choice to follow Christ as a religious or priest more radical. It is said that when families were large and incomes were small, Catholic parents would almost designate one or two children as nuns and/or priests. Now in contrast, when the average family has only one, two, or possibly three children, parents want to assure themselves of grandchildren. They no longer promote vocations as much as they indicate to their children that they are hoping to have grandchildren. In some cases a young person has to almost turn her or his back on the family to enter a seminary or convent.
This gospel passage today provokes this kind of radicalness as it deals with the difficulty of discipleship. Jesus’ followers are called to sleep under the stars, to be absent from their homes when parents die, and indeed to leave aside totally family concerns. However, a problem emerges. Christian discipleship extends far beyond religious life and the priesthood. Both married and single persons are called to follow Christ with the same kind of radicalness that we find in the gospel.
Married couples who adhere to Church teaching on artificial contraception certainly swim against the tide of convention and ease. Single persons who dedicate their lives to caring for others – be they young students or aged parents – while adhering to Catholic moral norms certainly will find struggle part of the package. The key to Christian discipleship is letting go of personal desires to live as Jesus want us to. This takes radical commitment in any time or place. We can accomplish it with joy only by accepting God’s infinitely more radical love.