The Cost of Being a Disciple: – the Birthday of the the Virgin and the 23d Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Escriva preached: “We have wanted to offer our Mother a token of affection, though it be only the gift of a poor flower, which has no fragrance and is all but colorless. But she accepts it, she receives it affectionately because she is a Mother, and what a Mother!
“We want to be like the child who comes up to his mother and, as a proof of his affection, doesn’t offer her precious toys, which he doesn’t consider his own, but puts his hand into his pocket and gives here what is of most value to him, his treasure: a spool without thread, a lead soldier without a head…., a marble, a button, a smooth polished stone. Strangers may smile at the scene, but the mother’s heart is moved by her son’s childlike ways. Mother of mine, we have given you everything we have, like the child who shows his great and pure love for his mother. And we also bring you our desires to be holy while we live here below.”
Now let’s apply this to the Gospel of the 23d Sunday of Ordinary time: Luke 14:25-33.
25 Large Crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
As I recall, Kierkegaard took this call by Christ to be the call to Abraham to kill Isaac as the radical meaning of faith, thus beginning Christian existentialism as rational account of revelation. It was the radical call to self gift even unto death which is the reality of Christ “learning obedience” (Hebrews 5, 8: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered…”) After the approval or Opus Dei on October 11, 1943 followed by subsequent approvals, the Second Vatican Council was called and published the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in 1964 which stated apodictedly that all are called to holiness and that the laity were to seek this “by engaging in t emoral affairs.” (#31). His life spanned a good part of the 19th c. and has had an enormous impact on the present time.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Blogger Commentary: The child is giving what the Lord prescribes for everyone (“Large crowds”): The Cross of being a disciple of Christ is one’s very self. It is an unequaled “sting.” Yesterday being the birthday of Our Lady, John Paul II (with the suggestion of Joseph Ratzinger: See “Dogma and Truth” [Ignat ius 2005, pp. 353-356)). The “truth of Mary” is the very gift of herself which was to freely give Christ – Who is her very self – to the death willed by the Father (the Divine Love itself). I use the word “sting” – and perhaps bitterly – because What the Lord is asking for is so intimate and dear to us that it is the very self that is “stung.” It is “to hate” what is intimately dear to me. I am being asked to lose it E.g. Abraham was asked to kill his only begotten son Isaac. He was asked “to hate” him by the act of killing him. To give what is most dear to him– as Christ was to our Lady – is “to hate Him.” “Will you hate your dearly beloved and kill Him for love of Me?” This highlights the radical nature of divine Love. This alone is eternal life. Christ’s death on the Cross is the very Revelation of Who He is as Son and Relation to the Father. One ends up as nothing but “Relation.” But this is the solidty and Realism of Trinitarian Life. And This pulsates in us until we live it out snf become Love Itself
I remember a married man who fell in love with another woman, who fell in love with him. He knew he had to “kill” this at tachment to be integrally who he was before God, but it cost him dearly. After much suffering to live the truth of fidelity, all persons involved have flour ished as persons – which makes me think of J.R.R.Tolkien’s [Lord od the Rings] offering on Arwen and Aragorn:
Arwen, daughter of the Elfish King (Elron), is immortal by the very nature of the elves. She gives herself to Aragorn who is a human and mortal. In making the gift of herself, she condemns herself to death but prefers love to death than immortality for self. Tolkien offers this love of self gift as the key to understanding the “rustic” love and apparently “ordinary” love of the real protagonist of TLOTR, Sam Gamgee and his love for Rosie. Consider the following letter:
In a long letter (131 in the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien) to Milton Waldman (who worked for the publishers of LOTR) in 1951, Tolkien wrote:
But the highest love-story, that of Aragorn and Arwen Elrond’s daughter is only alluded to as a known thing. It is told elsewhere in a short tale, Of Aragorn and Arwen Undómiel. I think the simple ‘rustic’ love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero’s) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the ‘longing for Elves’, and sheer beauty.
And in a 1954 letter to Peter Hastings (153):
Arwen is not a ‘re-incarnation’ of Lúthien (that in the view of this mythical history would be impossible, since Lúthien has died like a mortal and left the world of time) but a descendant very like her in looks, character, and fate. When she weds Aragorn (whose love-story elsewhere recounted is not here central and only occasionally referred to) she ‘makes the choice of Lúthien’, so the grief at her parting from Elrond is specially poignant.
Also, in a never-sent draft (181):
Here I am only concerned with Death as part of the nature, physical and spiritual, of Man, and with Hope without guarantees. That is why I regard the tale of Arwen and Aragorn as the most important of the Appendices; it is part of the essential story, and is only placed so, because it could not be worked into the main narrative without destroying its structure: which is planned to be ‘hobbito-centric’, that is, primarily a study of the ennoblement (or sanctification) of the humble.
I believe this to be the meaning of the Love that is Transcendent Self Gift. This is what we are to understand as the transcendent supernatural Love of God. It is such a total gift of oneself that there is nothing left of me except the relation of Love to the divine Person asking it. It’s not that you give everything away, but that you give yourself away – which is more than “everything.” This is divine vocation to sanctity. It’s a gift that can take place amidst much “having.” To a child, it is “a spool without thread…., a marble, a button, a smooth polished stone.” It’s always the self.