Charles grew up wanting to be a priest. Just as he was about to begin to realize his dream by entering the seminary something terrible happened. His older brother died. Although he wanted to go to the seminary, Charles knew that his help was needed to help raise his many nieces and nephews. Finally after the youngest finished college, he entered the seminary while he was in his mid-50’s. He became a priest at age 60 and served 12 years before retiring.
Have you ever wondered why the first book in the New Testament was the Gospel according to Matthew? Why not Mark’s gospel which was the first written? Or Saint’s Luke’s gospel which stresses the compassion of Christ or Saint? Or John’s gospel which is so poetic? The Church has always favored the Gospel according to Matthew because it teaches so much about discipleship — becoming and being a follower of Jesus Christ. What it means to be a disciple is clearly spelled out in today’s gospel when Jesus says we must do three things: deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him.
To be a true disciple means we must DENY OURSELVES: Self-denial is not taught or practiced very much these days. Everything seems instant, microwaveable, or download-able. We borrow money at high interest rates for things we don’t need and can’t afford. Self-denial is not self-hatred, but it means not putting ourselves and our desires first. Fr. Charles Savage put his nieces and nephews ahead of his career and personal desires.
To be a true disciple means we must TAKE UP OUR CROSSES: Jesus never promised that being a disciple would be easy. Because of free will and the imperfect world we live in suffering is a part of life. Jesus experienced the excruciating anguish of the Cross. The Blessed Virgin Mary endured trials, the most painful of which was to watch her only son die. When we take up our cross and offer up out suffering, God can do so much.
To be a true disciple means we must FOLLOW IN JESUS’ FOOTSTEPS: We are to go where Jesus went and do what Jesus did: reach out to the needy; spread the good news; spend time in prayer; join in communal worship, defend the defense-less; comfort the suffering, and seek and do God’s will for us.
What does it mean to a disciple of Jesus?
TAKE UP OUR CROSSES and
This is our homework. This is our job description. This is what we should be doing.