Thursday, July 29, 2010
The cost of discipleship...
"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
Several years ago during a conversation with my sister, I must have said something suggesting she return to Mass - I never pressured her ever - but she must have been exasperated with me because she snapped, "If religion is so great why aren't you happy?" (Or did she say, "Why do you still have so many problems?")
I really did not know how to answer her. I think I said something lame like "I would be worse if I didn't practice my faith." I knew telling her what Our Lady told St. Bernadette wouldn't compete with her idea of a comfortable faith: "I can't promise you happiness in this world, but in the next." My sister is convinced God wants us to be happy and content in this life, so if we don't want to go to church, we can think of God in bed. If the kids don't think it is important to marry their significant other, that is okay too - after all, "what does a piece of paper mean?" Likewise, if her gay son wants to get married, why can't he? She just wants him to be happy.
Anyway - I'm not ragging on my dear old sister here, not at all. I can't change her. But now and again I am reminded of the affront made to me, "Why aren't you happy?" It was but a few days ago that I decided it is not always necessary to have an answer or to offer an excuse.
I recalled similar challenges made to someone else, a very long time ago now; "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." And, "Aren't you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us." Christ never responded. [Luke 23:37-41]