1. 2Kings 4:8-11
2. Rom 6:3-4,8-11
Gospel: Matt 10:37-42

"  Jesus has not to be followed up the cross, but must be followed up on the cross."

We are told a true story about 2 African- American brothers who lived in the south during the 50s and 60s.  One of them, Robert became a noted lawyer and politician, the other brother, Clarence, got involved in inter-racial work- not exactly a popular occupation in those days. Note that the tension between blacks and whites was very high. People were staging sit-ins and marched down city streets. Police used dogs and fire horses to disperse the protesters.

Eventually Clarence's work got him into trouble and he turned to his brother for legal help. And Robert wouldn't help him. What shocked Clarence most of all was that both of them had committed their lives to Christ.

Robert after being confronted about why he would not help his brother, Robert defended himself saying, "Clarence, I do follow Jesus, but only up to a point. I follow him up to the cross, but not on the cross. I' am not getting myself crucified." Clarence looked at his brother's face and said, " Robert, you are not a follower of Jesus. You are only admirer of his."

We can all relate to Robert's feeling, can't we? After all, there are times in our lives when our commitment   to Christ is tested to the breaking point too. Some hardship or tragedy hits us and we are tempted not to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

"Anyone who does not take up his or her cross and follow in my footsteps is not my worthy of me." Those are powerful words indeed. True Christianity comes at a great cost.  To be a true Christian leaves no ' wiggle room' for self- centeredness.

We are all aware of the phrase, " you get what you pay for." Well then, be aware of cheap  religion. Be aware of any religion that comes across as soft and easy- the religions that basically say, " go ahead and do your own thing as long as you are being true to yourself." Be aware of religion where the cost of following Christ is never mentioned and where your consciences are never challenged or disturbed. Cheap religion will only wrap you in tales of God's love but will never tell you that same fire of love must burn all of our self-centeredness out of us. There are too many religions in today's world that only give one side of the story- God's love and not the other side­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­- our responsibility to follow him in the way that he wants us to.

Sometimes we found ourselves being admires of Jesus instead of being followers of Jesus. This is because each one us has got a way of looking at Jesus and understand him. We have got different images and expectations about Jesus. The question is are we followers of Jesus or we are his admirers? if we are admirers then we will become bitter and hopeless people when things don't go our way. St. Theresa of Avila had a great quote for these types of people. " Lord, spare me from sour-faced saints."

On the other hand if we are true followers of Jesus, we will realize that all of our trials and tribulations, no matter how awful they may be, can and will bring us closer to God, if we'll only put our self-centeredness. If we do this, i.e. realize that, as one door closes another will open, we will gain a deeper appreciation of our authentic needs and wants and put away all of our useless and transitory desires.

Finally let us remember that people learn about God, not because they figure out the Trinity or what the Vatican is doing  or because they can read the New Testament in the original Greek. No, People learn about God from Godlike people- people who pick up their crosses every day and to their best to follow Jesus. All of us can be God to someone- someone who will remember what God is like because they remember what we are like- that we are followers of Jesus- not admirers.

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Chapisha Maoni