“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
(Gospel Text: LK 9:57-62)
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."
Today’s Gospel passage is a clear example. Jesus enters into dialogue with three would-be followers. Because he is listening not only to their words but to their hearts, he says not what each of them is expecting but precisely what each needs to hear. He shows them that the kind of discipleship he is asking of them is different from the noble intentions they are offering to him. And he does this by painting a powerful picture that clarifies how each person’s decision should change his or her life.
It’s interesting that we never find out how these people respond. In a sense, we don’t have to. Jesus is content to have us ponder his questions ourselves. His goal is not to give us mini-biographies of these people but to ask all of us to listen to him more deeply. When we enter into dialogue with the Lord, we don’t always get the answer we seek. But we always get an answer.
So linger long enough to listen, and let his words of invitation pierce your heart.